By Ian Neubauer
The board of Foster’s announced today (September 26) the appointment of Ian Johnston to the role of CEO, effective immediately.
Johnston has been acting CEO at Foster’s since former chief executive Trevor O’Hoy left Foster’s in July following the announcement of more than $700 million in writedowns attributed to the company’s underperforming wine business.
Johnston previously served as a non-executive director at Foster’s since September last year and has more than 20 years experience managing global firms, including time spent as managing director of global confectionary at Cadbury Schweppes plc.
His appointment comes as a surprise to analysts who predicted Foster’s would source a fresh face from a foreign country to steer the company in a new direction.
But Foster’s chairman David Crawford said Johnston was appointed because he was the best person for the job.
“We have been absolutely clear and consistent that we would appoint the best person to lead the company, and have conducted a rigorous international search to this end,” he said.
“Having initially intended to return to his non-executive role, Ian recently indicated his availability to take on the CEO appointment, Ian’s mix of skills and experience, combined with the positive impact he has made over the past few months, convinced the board that he was ideal for the role.”
The task that lays before Johnston is monumental, to say the least. He will be charged with salvaging Foster’s wine business, whcih could involve a full or partial sale when the findings of a strategic review are finalised later this year.
Foster’s shares were trading at $5.76 at midday compared to $5.38 this time last week.