Coca-Cola Amatil has reshuffled the board of its Fiji-based offshoot Paradise Beverages, which makes Vonu Beer and the award-winning Bounty Rum, following the resignation of former CC Amatil chief financial officer Nessa O’Sullivan earlier this year.
Ms O’Sullivan had been CFO of CC Amatil since 2010, before she left in January as part of a management restructure by new boss Alison Watkins, and was until last week still the chairwoman of Paradise Beverages.
She has now stepped down from that role and been replaced by George Forster, group general council and company secretary for CC Amatil.
The news comes as Ms Watkins prepares to fly to Indonesia to tie up loose ends around an agreement supported by shareholders last month to sell a one-third stake in CC Amatil’s Indonesian bottling business to its parent, The Coca-Cola Company, in return for a $500 million investment in the Asian drinks arm.
CC Amatil and Ms Watkins are also prepping for the beverage company’s first major Coke launch in 10 years when it releases its new Coke Life brand next month.
Leading retailers including supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles are reportedly keen to support the new product.
Batches of Coke Life, which is sweetened with cane sugar and stevia leaf extract to produce a drink with one-third fewer calories than standard colas, are expected to be shipped to retailers within the next fortnight.
CC Amatil has also been active on the caffeine front. This week it launched a range of coffee capsules exclusively for Woolworths that are made by its Grinders coffee arm. The capsules are compatible with Caffitaly coffee machines.
Although the spirits operation is a small part of the bottler’s empire, and a legacy of former chief executive Terry Davis’s dreams of creating a sizeable brewing and alcoholic beverages business, Ms Watkins has pledged her support to invest in and grow the division.
Paradise Beverages is listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange and was formerly part of Foster’s, which sold its controlling stake in the Fiji drinks business to CC Amatil for $58m in 2012 when the bottler moved back into the alcoholic beverages category after a two-year absence.
The Fiji-based company owns a portfolio of brands, including premium craft lager Vonu Beer, which was recently launched in Australia, and Bounty Rum, which last year won a swag of medals at San Francisco’s World Spirit awards.
Paradise Beverages is 89.6 per cent controlled by CC Amatil. Minority shareholders have refused to sell their stakes to the Australian beverages giant, thereby preventing a full takeover.
CC Amatil has invested $F3.7m ($2.4m) in the Fiji brewer’s plant and equipment and plans to spend up to $F25m more to redress years of underinvestment.
CC Amatil is set to pocket a payment of just less than $300,000 after Paradise Beverages declared a special dividend to shareholders recently.
Extracted in full from The Australian.