In the next step toward launching two public companies, Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc.’s board of directors announced the appointments of the chairmen and chief executive officers of the future global snacks and North American grocery companies. The company expects to complete the spin-off by the end of 2012.

When the new companies launch, Irene B. Rosenfeld, currently chairman and chief executive officer of Kraft Foods, will be chairman and chief executive officer of the global snacks company, with $31 billion in estimated revenue and a significant presence in numerous fast-growing, international markets; W. Anthony Vernon, currently executive vice president and president of Kraft Foods North America, will become chief executive officer of the $17 billion North American grocery company; and John T. Cahill, currently an industrial partner of private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC, will become non-executive chairman of the North American grocery company.

In broad terms, Vernon, as chief executive officer, will lead the business, and Cahill, as chairman, will focus on public company, financial and strategic matters. Initially, Cahill will serve as executive chairman, reflecting the effort required to launch and transition to a public company. Cahill will join Kraft Foods in January to begin work on the separation.

"Irene, John and Tony are three of the finest executives in business today," said Mark Ketchum, lead director of the Kraft Foods board of directors, in a statement. "Their commitment to shareholder value, passion for brands and focus on sound financial management give the board great confidence in the future of the snacks and grocery companies."

Until the spin-off, the management structure of Kraft Foods will remain in place.  Rosenfeld and her executive team will continue to focus on delivering 2011 and 2012 business results as well as executing the separation, the company says.