Agribusiness

CPC appoints new interim CEO

Jon Condon, 18/10/2012

 

Mark IrwinOne of the nation’s largest beef producers, Consolidated Pastoral Co, has appointed an interim chief executive officer following the sudden departure of former CEO Mark Irwin yesterday.

Mr Irwin was appointed in August last year to replace pastoral legend, Ken Warriner, who also stood down from the CPC board in September this year.

As an interim measure, CPC has appointed Terra Firma connection Fergal Leamy as interim CEO, effective immediately.

The company said Mr Irwin had “moved on to pursue new challenges.”

Mr Leamy is a director of Terra Firma, the private equity company which is the majority shareholder of Consolidated Pastoral Co. A lawyer by trade, he was previously chief executive of Greencore's chilled food business in the US, following a career at management consultants, McKinsey and hotel and restaurant operator Whitbread in the UK.

Given his background, it would appear he has little to offer CPC in a long-term hands-on pastoral operations sense, and may be filling the position in a custodial role only.

Chairman of Consolidated Pastoral Co, Mark Bahen, thanked Mr Irwin for his contribution to the business during a period of significant change in the industry.

“I am delighted to welcome Fergal to Consolidated Pastoral. He has an outstanding track record and I am sure will lead the company to even greater success,” he said.

It is no secret that deep divisions had emerged between Mr Irwin and CPC operational field staff, with a number of departures from the company in recent times linked to differences of opinion over management policy.     

It has been widely suggested over recent months that CPC was looking for a pastoral operations manager, which was interpreted at that point to be a role likely to serve under Mr Irwin’s overall management responsibility.  

Mr Irwin was a former GrainCorp chief executive, but came to the CPC role with little hands-on pastoral experience. He had had widespread operational and M&A experience, having held a number of senior management positions in the agricultural and mining sectors.

He served as chief executive of GrainCorp from 2008 to 2010, before which he spent 11 years with BHP Billiton.

Mr Warriner acted as chairman and chief executive of CPC for many years, including the 25 year period the company was majority-owned by the late Kerry Packer. He presided over the company’s vast Northern Territory, northern WA and North and western Queensland land assets from the CPC headquarters at Newcastle Waters Station, on the edge of the Barkly Tableland.

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