The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: EABL Head Quits After Eight Months in Office

East African Breweries managing director, Devlin Hainsworth, has resigned after barely a year in office.

Diageo, the 50.3 per cent shareholder , made the announcement on Friday and announced his replacement Charles Ireland who takes over next month

Hainsworth who took up the position in July, is said to be leaving Diageo Group. "Devlin is leaving EABL to pursue other interests outside the business" said the EABL corporate relations director , Brenda Mbathi.

His short term was marked by a dip in the company's profits. Last Friday, EABL announced a 14 per cent drop in net profits in its half year profits down from Sh4.4 billion in the first half of 2011 to Sh3.7 billion.

The drop was attributed to high financing,distribution and raw material procurement costs. Finance costs rose by 221 per cent to stand at Sh2.1 billion, up from Sh600 million driven by its acquisition of a 20 per cent stake of the Kenya Breweries stake in Tanzania Breweries last year. EABL borrowed Sh19 billion for this purpose.

Revenues, however, grew by 10 per cent to hit Sh27.7 billion driven by good performance in some beer categories and premium spirits. the sales in all its countries of operations except Uganda.

On the Nairobi Securities Exchange, EABL has been trading heavily lately.The share price hit an all time high of Sh315 on February 13.

Financial markets analyst, Aly Khan Satchu said he does not expect the share price to be impacted by the departure given its a 'big machine'. On Friday it was trading 1.47 per cent higher than Thursdays's close of Sh277.

"Hainsworth presided over a 32.027 per cent total return for shareholders during his 7 month tenure and this is an outstanding return anywhere in the World. The Business has continued to play an offensive game around product suite and geographical expansion," he said

"I am surprised that he is leaving because I think he showed a great deal of subtle Leadership," Satchu added.

Incoming Ireland has been the managing director of Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB) in Malaysia, a joint venture between Diageo plc and Asia Pacific Breweries for five years that is listed on the Malaysian stock exchange. Before that he was the general manger of Diageo Philippines

Hainsworth succeeded Seni Adetu who was transfered to head Guinness Nigeria. Last year, Diageo made a shakeup in EABL's boardroom bringing in Siobhan Moriarty and Tracey Barnes, with this it double its seats n the board and gained a firmer grip on the company.

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