Coca-Cola Amatil appoints GrainCorp CEO as its next MD

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd December 2013

Food and beverage company Coca-Cola Amatil Limited (CCA) has announced the appointment of Alison Watkins as Group Managing Director. Earlier today, GrainCorp had announced Ms Watkins’ resignation as its CEO.

Ms Watkins had held the GrainCorp CEO position role for three and a half years, during which time GrainCorp has grown and diversified from a largely domestic grain logistics business to a leading listed international agriculture and food processing company. Ms Watkins is expected to join CCA on 3 March 2014.

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Alison Watkins as CCA’s new Group Managing Director,” said David Gonski, CCA Chairman. “Alison has a highly successful operations and management background across many industries, having delivered impressive results across the food and beverages, retail and finance sectors, and has significant experience in developing and managing businesses and people,” he said.

“I believe Alison’s skills and background will assist CCA to deliver strong performance outcomes from our existing operations and progress the strong development opportunities in our emerging businesses,” Mr Gonski said. “The Board is confident that Alison’s leadership credentials and focus on excellence position her well to drive further development and growth across the CCA group,” he said.

The announcement of Ms Watkins move from GrainCorp to CCA comes just after Australian Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey made an order under the Foreign Acquisition and Takeovers Act prohibiting global food processing company Archer Daniels Midland Company’s (ADM) acquisition of GrainCorp.

Ms Watkins said that her decision had been enormously difficult and was “made with great sadness”, but that she was excited by the opportunities at CCA.

“I have carefully weighed my options over the past two days,” Ms Watkins said. “I had planned to leave the Company at the time control passed over to ADM. Given last week’s unexpected developments, I feel it is in the best interests of GrainCorp, our people and our customers that I move on now and allow the Board to find new leadership to take the business forward into its new phase,” she said.

“I believe my career and experience to date puts me in an excellent position to lead CCA in its next chapter of growth, building on the successes achieved under the leadership of Terry Davis,” Ms Watkins said.

Broad experience and background

Ms Watkins is an experienced Chief Executive Officer and ASX 20 company Board Director with experience across alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, food processing, agriculture, retail, consumer goods and financial services. Prior to her role at GrainCorp she held a number of Executive roles, including CEO of juice company Berri Limited, and is a former partner of McKinsey and Company. She was formerly a non-executive Director of Woolworths Limited and is currently a non-executive Director of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited.

As a direct result of her appointment as the new Group Managing Director of CCA, Ms Watkins intends to resign from her non-executive directorship of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited in April 2014.

Ms Watkins will join CCA on 3 March 2014 and will replace CCA’s current long-serving Group Managing Director, Terry Davis, who will step down from his position on this date. Mr Davis will remain available for advice and special projects to Ms Watkins and the Board until the end of August 2014.

Current GrainCorp CEO to be next CCA MD