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Treasury Wine Estates shares dip as CEO announces retirement

Business

The value of shares in Treasury Wine Estates, owner of Penfolds and Wolf Blass, fell sharply today after chief executive Michael Clarke announced his retirement.

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The share price of the world’s largest publicly-listed winemaker fell by 11.1 per cent to $16.54, by 12:38pm Adelaide time today.

The company had revealed Clarke would be stepping down as CEO and managing director in the first quarter of 2021, to be replaced by current chief operating officer Tim Ford.

Clarke led a major turnaround in the company’s fortunes – including a five-fold increase in its share price – during his time at the helm of the company, focusing its efforts on premium brands and improving access to the Chinese market.

Treasury shares were worth around $3.60 when Clarke started in the job.

“It is without question the extraordinary transformation and outstanding financial returns that TWE has achieved, have been driven by Michael’s leadership over the past five and a half years,” said Treasury chairman Paul Rayner in the announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange this morning.

“The structural changes and initiatives delivered by Michael and his team have stablished TWE as a significantly stronger business than when he first joined the company, and one that is very well placed to continue delivering sustainable, margin accretive growth well into the future.”

Clarke will act as an adviser on initiatives including potential mergers and acquisitions for up to a year after his departure.

He will advise Ford, who joined the company in 2011 and performed a variety of senior roles before becoming chief operating officer in January this year.

“He has been running the operation of all TWE regions since January 2019, and prior to that as deputy chief operating officer ran the Asia, Europe and ANZ regions,” Rayner said.

“His depth and breadth of experience within our business is therefore well proven.”

– with AAP

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