Finance Finance News GrainCorp boss Watkins resigns

GrainCorp boss Watkins resigns

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GrainCorp chief executive Alison Watkins has resigned after the federal government blocked a proposed $3.4 billion foreign takeover of the grain handler.

In a statement, Ms Watkins said she had intended to leave the company once the planned takeover by US food giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) but Treasurer Joe Hockey’s decision to reject the move forced a change of plan.

“I have carefully weighed my options over the past two days,” Ms Watkins said.

“Given last week’s unexpected developments, I feel it is in the best interests of GrainCorp, our people and customers that I move on now and allow the board to find new leadership to take the business forward into its new phase,” she said.

Mr Hockey on Friday said it was not in the national interest for the takeover to go ahead.

He said “now is not the right time” for the takeover because of the impact it would have on competition, and because it risked undermining public support for foreign investment.

GrainCorp said Ms Watkins will leave the business in mid January to pursue a new opportunity in the corporate sector.

The company’s chairman Don Taylor temporarily will take on the role of executive chairman and will be appointed acting chief executive following Ms Watkins departure, while the company looks for a permanent replacement.

Mr Taylor said Mr Hockey’s decision had come as a surprise to the company and Ms Watkins’ departure was regrettable.

“It is with great regret that the board has accepted Alison’s resignation. However, we respect her decision to move on, particularly when a change of control in GrainCorp was broadly expected to occur over the coming weeks,” he said.

“The expectation in the investment community was that ADM’s offer for GrainCorp would be approved and effected in the near term.”

But, he said, the company was well-positioned for future growth.

“Despite the challenges of the past week, GrainCorp remains a great company, with exciting opportunities ahead,” he said.