updated 2/5/2007 9:29:06 AM ET 2007-02-05T14:29:06

The board of PepsiCo said Monday it has elected as chairwoman its Chief Executive Indra K. Nooyi, one of the highest ranked women leaders in corporate America.

Nooyi assumes her new post effective May 2 at the retirement of former CEO Steven Reinemund.

Nooyi, 51, became chief executive of the company on Oct. 1. She has been at PepsiCo since 1994 and has been credited with shifting the company to build a portfolio of healthier foods, including the acquisition of the Quaker Oats and Tropicana brands. Before she became CEO, she served as president and chief financial officer.

"I'm incredibly honored by the board's confidence," Nooyi said in a statement released Monday.

The No. 2 soft drink maker after rival Coca-Cola Co. has added a growing number of beverages to expand its non-carbonated soft drink offerings. It sells water under the Aquafina brand and has bought the maker of sparkling fruit drink Izze. In snacks, it has acquired the companies that make Stacy's Pita Chips and Mother's Natural Cereals. It has also started selling a protein drink called Fuelosophy and Sun Snacks chips at certain Whole Foods market locations.

PepsiCo Inc. first announced in August that Reinemund was retiring to spend more time with his family. Reinemund, 58, served as CEO for five years. He has worked at the company for Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo for 23 years.

At the time, analysts said the announcement had surprised them given Reinemund's comparatively short tenure as CEO. He was just the company's fourth chairman and chief executive in the company's 42-year history.

Reinemund followed Roger Enrico (1996-2001), Wayne Calloway (1986-1996) and Donald Kendall (1971-1986). Herman Lay was PepsiCo's first chairman; Kendall was CEO.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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