Tuesday, July 1, 2008

F&N To Revamp Management, Halts Search For Group CEO

Source : The Business Times, July 1, 2008

APB's CEO to head group's food & beverage business

Local conglomerate Fraser & Neave (F&N) has halted its search for a group CEO and will put in place a new management and organisational structure in the coming months.

The reorganisation will see some key personnel take on expanded roles.

The current CEO of Asia Pacific Breweries (APB), Koh Poh Tiong, will join F&N as CEO of its food and beverage (F&B) business on Oct 1. He will drive the growth of this segment, which includes brewery, dairies, soft drinks and glass interests. These businesses are held through various wholly-owned and listed subsidiaries.

Mr Koh will also represent F&N's interest on the boards of APB and F&N Holdings in Malaysia.

CEO of properties Lim Ee Seng will continue to head that business. He will also formally chair the boards of F&N's property-related companies - Frasers Property (China) and Frasers Centrepoint Asset Management.

Mr Koh and Mr Lim, with CEO of publishing and printing Ng Jui Sia, will report to F&N's board through a newly created Chairman's Office. The office will coordinate reporting lines and provide corporate services support.

Chairman Lee Hsien Yang will remain in his current role.

'As chairman, Mr Lee will continue to oversee the board, strategic planning, management of relationships with the group's business partners, and succession planning,' an F&N spokesman said.

'His consultancy with F&N was unwound in January 2008 following the annual general meeting, and all his director's fees, which reflect his contributions as chairman, will be subject to shareholders' approval,' he said. Mr Lee received a pay package of $1.25 million earlier this year.

F&N has also engaged Morgan Stanley to assist in reviewing strategic options for its publishing and printing business and will provide further updates 'as and when appropriate'.

The reorganisation comes on the back of a review, which recognised the difficulty of recruiting someone with all of the skills necessary to realise the full potential of the group's businesses, F&N said in a statement yesterday.

The review also acknowledged 'the presence of management talent within the group' and 'the distinct characteristics of the group's two core contributors to profits, F&B and properties'.

Mr Lee said in yesterday's announcement that 'this new management and organisation structure will best serve the strategic interests of the F&N group with a CEO focused on driving each of our business areas'.

'This will secure the future advancement of the group which remains firmly committed to delivering continued growth, and a rebalancing of its portfolio by increasing the contribution to group profits from its F&B brands,' he said.

Mr Koh has been CEO of APB for 15 years and is credited with expanding the firm into a regional player with 30 breweries in 12 countries. The CEO of Heineken Russia, Roland Pirmez, will take over his role on Oct 1.

Mr Pirmez, 48, was general manager of APB associate Thai Asia Pacific Brewery Co from 1998 to 2002. He will join APB on Sept 1 as CEO-designate.

F&N shares closed two cents lower at $4.53 yesterday.

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