Back to the Future! Will Lafley's P&G Return Work?
A.G. Lafley's return as boss at Procter & Gamble will be beneficial to the company because he "knows where the bodies are buried," management expert Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told CNBC on Friday.
"It's pretty exciting to have somebody who knows the ground, knows the key constituents," Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "[But] the downside of course: What did [he] contribute to the current mess?"
The appointment of Lafley as chairman and CEO of P&G, the company he ran from 2000 to 2009, was announced Thursday and is effectively immediately. He succeeded embattled chief executive Bob McDonald—who had taken the reigns when Lafley retired.
(Read More: P&G Brings Back A.G. Lafley as Chairman & CEO)
"Here when you have somebody who comes back from the past," Sonnenfeld continued, "say Michael Dell [at Dell], we've seen that or Howard Schultz of Starbucks [and] of course the legendary move of the return to power of Steve Jobs [at Apple], it can be great."
On Lafley's appointment, hedge fund manager and major P&G investor Bill Ackman told CNBC: "A.G. Lafley is one of the greatest CEOs and we're delighted to have him back."
Consumer products analyst Linda Bolton of B. Riley said, "I don't mean to diminish [Lafley's] great success as a leader, but arguably he left the company with a weak innovation pipeline."
"Perhaps, he didn't invest adequately enough at the end of his tenure ... [and] that's how the company got into some of this," she added.
Ackman had been pushing to remove McDonald, who saw P&G stock rise 54 percent during his tenure but underperform the S&P 500 Index and some competitors.
In a "Squawk Box" interview last October, Ackman said the firm had "stumbled" under the chief executive's leadership, and he had met with the board to express his concerns.
At the CNBC and Institutional Investor "Delivering Alpha Conference" last July, Ackman said his Pershing Square fund had taken a $1.8 billion, or about 1 percent, stake in P&G.
(Flashback: P&G Investors Profited Since Ackman Push: Former CEO)
"Ackman is concerned about sales growth," Sonnenfeld said, adding that Lafley "explored an awful lot for [P&G] in the emerging markets, which is the unfinished agenda" at the company.
During his first tenure, Lafley turned around a company in crisis. He had also engineered the $57 billion acquisition of the Gillette, which has been a challenge in many ways for P&G since then.
"Lafley is very good at restructuring," Sonnenfeld said. "Lafley hasn't got any religious zealotry to anything in the past. He can revisit these acquisitions and I think bring some efficiency." He added, "[Lafley] was the one who bought them. I think he knows where those opportunities are."