Foster’s Group caretaker CEO Ian Johnston has been made permanent – amid mounting speculation about a takeover.
Johnston – a non-executive member of the Foster’s board – was appointed acting CEO two months ago when Trevor O’Hoy quit the top job.
His appointment comes a day after Deutsche Bank revealed it had built a 5.3% stake in Foster’s – a move which has sparked market speculation that it was made on behalf of a predator.
One analyst, who did not want to be named, said Johnston’s appointment was made in haste ‘because if you are under threat then you need a CEO …….’. An international search would have taken until the end of December.
Johnston retired in 2000 as a managing director of a Cadbury Schweppes division. After retiring he held a wide range of consultancies.
Announcing his appointment, Foster’s chairman David Crawford said, ‘Ian understands the nature of the global marketplace and has a proven ability to build a sustainable business performance by growing the top line, and investing in innovation and capability,’ Crawford said.
Johnston said in a statement that in his short time at Foster’s he had been ‘impressed with the strength of our brands, the progress we are making in optimising our supply chain globally and the potential of our people.’
A Foster’s spokesperson said that the review of the company’s wine assets, which Crawford and Johnston were conducting, was still scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide