GrainCorp CEO leaves for Coca-Cola

GrainCorp's CEO has resigned from her position to take up the top job at Coca-Cola Amatil.

Chief executive officer and managing director of GrainCorp Ltd Alison Watkins will resign from her position to take up the top job at Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd just days after Treasurer Joe Hockey blocked American company Archer Daniels Midland's $3.4 billion takeover offer for the Australian grains group.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Coca-Cola Amatil said Ms Watkins is expected to join CCA as group managing director on March 3, 2014.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd also confirmed in a statement that Ms Watkins will step down from the ANZ board in April 2014 after her appointment to replace Terry Davis as head of CCA.

In a separate statement, GrainCorp said the board accepted her resignation with great regret.

"We respect her decision to move on, particularly when a change of control in GrainCorp was broadly expected to occur over the coming weeks," GrainCorp chairman Don Taylor said.

"The expectation in the investment community was that ADM’s offer for GrainCorp would be approved and effected in the near term.

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

Ms Watkins said she had intended to leave the company when control was passed over to ADM, but in light of last week's "unexpected developments" it was best for her to depart now.

Mr Taylor said that an external and internal search for a replacement had commenced, and he will assume a temporary role as executive chairman immediately.

From mid-January, he will be acting CEO until the appointment of a replacement.

Ms Watkins will depart at the end of January and will work with Mr Taylor on a smooth leadership transition.

Decision won't damage US relations: Joyce

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says the decision to block the takeover of GrainCorp will not damage trade relations with the United States, despite the Obama administration expressing disappointment with the outcome.

A US State Department spokeswoman said the administration was disappointed by Treasurer Joe Hockey's decision to block the takeover.

The US was the largest foreign direct investor in Australia, with $US132 billion ($145 billion) in investment projects to date, the spokeswoman said in a statement to The Australian Financial Review.

But Mr Joyce said Australia had to "look after our people first" and the United States would understand why the government stopped the buyout by the US agricultural giant.

"I don't think it's damaged trade relations with the US," he told reporters.

"You think of all the rejections the US government has made on foreign investment in their nation, and has that damaged where the US investments profile goes?"

The agriculture minister said "basically" every port along the United States coast was owned by US companies.

InvestSMART FORUM: Come and meet the team

We're loading up the van and going on tour from April to June, with events on the NSW central & north coast, the QLD mid-north coast and in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Come and meet the team and take home simple strategies that you can use to build an investment portfolio to weather any storm. Book your spot here.

Want access to our latest research and new buy ideas?

Start a free 15 day trial and gain access to our research, recommendations and market-beating model portfolios.

Sign up for free

Related Articles