GrainCorp boss set to exit

02 Dec, 2013 08:07 AM
GrainCorp managing director Alison Watkins will leave the company early next year.
I feel it is in the best interests of GrainCorp ... that I move on now
GrainCorp managing director Alison Watkins will leave the company early next year.

THE head of GrainCorp has announced her intention to resign just days after plans for a multi-billion takeover of the company by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) were scuppered by the federal Treasurer.

Coca-Cola Amatil has confirmed Ms Watkins, a former chief executive of Berri Ltd, will join the beverage bottler as group managing director, taking the helm from outgoing chief Terry Davis in March.

Ms Watkins will also step down from her role as a director of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

In a statement to the market this morning, Alison Watkins said she had planned to depart the company when control passed over to ADM.

“Given last week’s unexpected developments, I feel it is in the best interests of GrainCorp, our people and customers that I move on now and allow the board to find new leadership to take the business forward into its new phase,” Ms Watkins said.

She will exit the company at the end of January next year.

GrainCorp said the search for a replacement chief executive was already underway and would look at both external and internal candidates.

Chairman Don Taylor, who will take on the role of acting chief executive from mid-January, said Ms Watkins’ exit was regrettable but not surprising.

“The expectation in the investment community was that ADM’s offer for GrainCorp would be approved and effected in the near-term,” Mr Taylor said.

“In that context, it is not surprising that an executive of Alison’s calibre has attracted interest and had new opportunities presented to her.”

GrainCorp shares have slumped to $8.72 since the Treasurer’s decision to cap ADM’s holding in GrainCorp at 24.9 per cent was announced on Friday morning after trading to a high of $12.82 shortly after the latest bid was announced in April.

Ms Watkins was GrainCorp’s first female chief executive, taking the reins of the big east coast grain handler and marketer in July 2010 – the same week it announced plans for a merger with AWB.

While that deal was torpedoed by Canadian company Agrium, GrainCorp has continued to bulk up on her watch, last year adding a significant oils business for $472 million.

Mr Taylor, who today became executive chairman of the company, said despite the challenges of the past week, there were still exciting opportunities ahead for GrainCorp.

"The market fundamentals that support our growth outlook remain sound and GrainCorp's board remains highly confident in our clearly articulated corporate strategy," Mr Taylor said in a statement to the ASX.

More to come

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2/12/2013 8:42:23 AM

Not surprising ...may as well as lose world class executive talent since we won't allow world class agribusinesses to evolve.
2/12/2013 10:50:44 AM

Your view isn't the view of ADM Hydatid or they wouldn't have pursued Graincorp in the first place. Nor does Watkins think so. See related coverage 'Ag boom ahead: Watkins.'
justice will come
2/12/2013 1:56:16 PM

Why has no investigation been conducted to see the real reason behind why they wanted to sell in the first place. For months GrainCorp had splashed in the media how prosperous their industry was, all the new deals and ventures, all of a sudden the need to sell to ADM?
2/12/2013 2:25:12 PM

Am I being totally cynical in thinking that it is now in the interests of a number of people to let Graincorp run down so they can say . "I told you so'"?
2/12/2013 4:00:33 PM

Read what I said DAW...I didn't say GC isn't a great asset..I said we won't allow it to evolve...maybe the CBH blokes should get it...getting screwed by the yanks would be heaven compared to getting crushed by our WA cousins
jack tancock
2/12/2013 4:52:40 PM

I think the grain industry has lost nothing with the departure of Ms Watkins. It has opened up an opportunity for a new CEO who is truly passionate about the Australian grain industry and the rebuilding of a once great system and piece of infrastructure. One which will allow Australians to get the spoils of the great future for our farmers that Watkins preached in another article, rather than a foreign mogul. If ADM could make it happen so can an Aussie. Pressure is now on our Govt and Farmers Associations to make it happen.
2/12/2013 8:07:22 PM

Jack..trouble is when we do get world scale businesses we never stop whinging about them..and trying to restrict their power and growth (4 banks, two fertilizer companies, two supermarkets..."how did we ever let this happen.").. You can't have it both ways
2/12/2013 8:37:54 PM

Hydaid- have a good look at storage , handling and freight costs in the West!!
2/12/2013 8:59:52 PM

Nice idea about Graincorp focusing on receivals and infrastructure, Jack, but not much hope considering the chairman is talking up the oilseeds crushing and barley malting side of business. Graincorp is losing its original reason for existing. Too much conflict between servicing the industry and the bottom line for shareholders.
Bushie Bill
3/12/2013 3:34:47 PM

Have any of you ignorant bozos ever considered that the board and the management, carrying out their legal obligations to look after the interests of shareholders, may have some ideas of their own on how to do that? Why do you think the board and management have a primary obligation to put your interests first? You don't even have the brains or decency to become shareholders before you start dictating your demands.
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You had better check your sources ATB!
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I couldn't think of anything more painful or fruitless than sitting on a board that does not
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I've said this before but if farmers are not happy with their CBH Board they should put up or