January 23/Kansas City/PRNewswire-FirstCall -- American Italian Pasta Company (AIPC) announced that Jack Kelly, who joined the company in November as chief operating officer, has assumed the positions of president and chief executive officer, as planned. He succeeds Jim Fogarty, a managing director at Alvarez & Marsal who has served as the company's president and CEO since September 2005.

AIPC also announced that Paul Geist, who most recently served as the company's vice president and corporate controller, has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"Jack has hit the ground running in the two months since he arrived. The planned leadership transition not only has been seamless, but even faster than originally anticipated," said Bill Patterson, chairman of the AIPC board of directors. "Jack has quickly focused his energies on getting to know our people and the company, as well as identifying key initiatives that will further improve our operations and enhance the branded and private label opportunities in our retail, foodservice and ingredient businesses. We are looking forward to a new chapter under Jack's skillful leadership and in partnership with the strong management team we now have in place."

"The solid foundation put in place under the leadership of Jim Fogarty and the board has enabled us to reach a number of important milestones," added Kelly. "Our talented team will be able to build on our accomplishments to date, continuing to innovate and identify ways to add even more value to our customers. On behalf of the board and all employees of AIPC, I want to thank Jim and his firm, Alvarez & Marsal, for their valuable contribution in helping to create strong liquidity and a sound foundation for growth."

Prior to joining AIPC, Kelly, a 30-plus-year food industry executive, led several private companies, including San Antonio Farms and Fiorucci Foods and held senior positions at Haagen-Dazs and Kraft Foods.

Geist, who joined AIPC in October 2004, was most recently vice president/controller for Potbelly Sandwich Works, a privately-owned restaurant company. In addition, Geist has held several senior management positions, including that of CFO, at Houlihan's Restaurant Group, Inc. and Westar Energy. He became AIPC's principal accounting officer in August 2006. "Paul has shown tremendous leadership during our restatement process," said Kelly. "With his extensive background in finance and accounting, Paul has proven that he is the right person to lead our finance team as we complete our restatement process and move our business forward."

AIPC, as previously announced, is in the final phase of a restatement of certain historical financial statements. The process will be completed pending the final review by the company's independent registered public accounting firm.

The company also announced that Kelly has been appointed to the board of cirectors and that Robert Niehaus will resign from the board effective January 31. "We welcome Jack to the board, and we thank Bob Niehaus for his tremendous dedication and service to our board," added Patterson. "AIPC has made significant strides over the past few years and has in place a strong management team and outstanding board of directors to lead it forward from here," said Niehaus.

With these changes, the AIPC board of directors will be comprised of Kelly and nine independent directors, three of whom have been added in the past two years.

From the February 4, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash