Treasury Wine taps new chairman

  • Treasury Wine taps new chairman

Paul Rayner

TREASURY Wine Estates has appointed former tobacco executive Paul Rayner as chairman while also adding three directors with backgrounds in retail and spirits.

Mr Rayner, a director at Qantas and Boral and a former chief financial officer at Rothmans Holdings and ex-chief operating officer at British American Tobacco Australasia, will succeed chairman Max Ould in September.

Mr Ould, a director of TWE’s former parent Foster’s from 2004, became chairman of the company when it was demerged in May last year. At the annual general meeting in October, he flagged his intention to step down.

The company has appointed former Wal-Mart China chief executive Ed Chan to the board in a move Mr Rayner said highlighted TWE’s focus on the fast-growing Asian wine market.

“We see significant opportunities for us to grow the business in Asia and specifically China, and I think having expertise on the ground from people who have worked in that market should be a significant plus for us.” Mr Chan, who is also vice-chairman of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand, is based in Hong Kong.

Also joining the board is former Finlandia Vodka chairman Michael Cheek and Orica, Qantas, Dulux, Nufarm and Ingeus director Garry Hounsell, who will replace Mr Rayner as head of the board’s audit committee.

Mr Rayner said Mr Cheek had significant experience in the wine sector as well as an extensive knowledge of the US liquor distribution system — an arcane labyrinth of state-based wholesalers and regulators that dates back to prohibition. The incoming chairman said the appointment of a US-based director also demonstrated the company’s commitment to the American market amid frequent speculation it was considering spinning off the US division into a separate company.

“Appointing someone to the board means it is more likely that you’re interested in the market for the long term rather than wanting to get out of it,” Mr Rayner said.

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