John Pollaers, who led Foster’s defence when SABMiller first swooped on the Australian brewer, is to stand down as chief executive.
Foster’s finally succumbed after SABMiller sweetened its bid to value the equity at A$10.8bn ($11.1bn), on Foster’s reckoning. Following shareholder approval Foster’s will become part of the world’s number two brewer by sales next week.
Mr Pollaers, who previously ran the Asian business of Diageo, the alcoholic drinks maker, said he would work on the integration for the next few months before moving on to “new challenges.”
Ari Mervis, managing director of SABMiller Asia, will take over as chief executive of Foster’s on December 16 when the acquisition is completed. Mr Mervis will retain some regional responsibilities and a replacement for his other duties will be announced in due course.
In an informal letter signed “Cheers, John,” Mr Pollaers said: “My departure will not be a surprise to many of you who know me well. I have always made it clear that my passion is to be CEO of a large public company.”
Foster’s takeover brings to an end what many investors will consider a saga of disappointing returns, much of which stemmed from the ill-fated decision to bolt on a wine business – which was in turn hived off shortly before the takeover.
But Mr Pollaers’ letter described a rejuvenated and more productive business. He wrote: “We now fundamentally believe that if a whole lot more people raised a beer in friendship, the world would be a better place . . . We stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us in this iconic Australian business, and your achievement would have made our [Carlton United Brewers] forefathers proud.”
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