Foster's names beer, wine chiefs for demerger
BEVERAGE giant Foster's has named the leaders of two separate companies to be created by a demerger early next year.
They are beer boss John Pollaers and Australian wine chief David Dearie.
The appointments mark another step towards the spin-off of the wine business which the company flagged in May, ending a 15-year experiment that has so far cost the company more than $3 billion in asset writedowns.
Analysts said neither of the executive appointments were unexpected, with the only other likely candidate to have missed out being US wine boss Stephen Brauer.
Citigroup analysts Andy Bowley and Craig Woolford said the choice of Mr Dearie over Mr Brauer indicated the company was now unlikely to shift Treasury Wine Estates' domicile to the US once it is spun out into a separate listed structure.
Current Foster's chief Ian Johnston, who was drafted from the board in 2008 following the sudden resignation of previous boss Trevor O'Hoy, will leave the company.
Mr Pollaers joined Foster's in April this year, having previously held the position of Asia-Pacific president of Diageo, owner of the Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness brands -- the last of which is produced in Australia under licence by Foster's.
Mr Dearie, who joined Foster's in July 2009, was previously managing director of Western Europe and Africa for Brown-Forman, owner of the Jack Daniels spirit brand. "I'm proud and delighted to be offered the opportunity to lead one of the world's great wine businesses," he said. "While wine has its challenges, the combination of demographics, population and consumer trends give me great confidence in our future as a 'pure play' wine company."
Mr Brauer, who joined the company two months before Mr Dearie, has laid out plans to make TWE the fastest-growing wine business in the US by 2013 and is expected to be part of Mr Dearie's senior executive team.
The company is yet to appoint chief financial officers to either business. But UBS analyst Lindy Newton said current Foster's finance director Steven Matthews was likely to be elevated to CFO of the beer business following the demerger. Foster's chairman David Crawford will remain with the existing company structure to steer the board of the beer operation, while Treasury Wine Estates, which is to be spun off into a separately listed structure, will be chaired by current Foster's director Max Ould.
Existing Foster's directors Michael Ullmer and Paul Clinton will also remain on the board of the existing company, while Lyndsey Cattermole will join Mr Ould on the board of TWE.
Foster's is continuing to officially maintain that a final decision on the demerger hasn't yet been made, although the move is widely considered a done deal.