Constellation Brands has appointed two independent directors to its board.
The Modelo brand owner named Luca Zaramella, chief financial officer of Mondelēz International and William Giles, the former CFO of AutoZone as independent directors to its now 13-member board.
The election of Zaramella and Giles as directors follows Constellation Brand’s decision to transition from a dual to a single class share structure last year.
The New York State-headquartered company also revealed it had reached an “information-sharing and cooperation” agreement with Elliott Investment Management, a US investment management company and one of its largest investors.
The activist investor has agreed to standstill any public campaigns against Constellation Brands for a period of twelve months, and will continue to work privately with the group to increase value to shareholders. Elliot has in the past sought to put pressure on FMCG companies in which it has an interest.
“We are excited to welcome Luca and Bill, who bring strong financial expertise that we believe will greatly benefit Constellation’s Board and management team, as we focus on long-range planning, capital allocation, and financing strategies,” said Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands. “We appreciate the perspective provided by our counterparts at Elliott, who have provided valuable input as we continue to take steps to enhance value to the company’s shareholders and other stakeholders.”
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Michael Goldberg, portfolio manager at Elliott added: “We are among Constellation’s largest investors because we believe the company’s meaningful growth potential, powered by its premier Mexican beer portfolio, is not currently reflected in the company’s stock price, and represents a significant amount of value that can be created from here.
“We believe that Bill and his team are the right leaders with the right strategy to deliver that value to shareholders through strong commercial execution and focused capital allocation.”
Constellation Brands’ growth in recent years has been driven by soaring demand for its Mexican beer imports. Its Modelo beer brand recently surpassed Bud Light to become the best selling beer in the US.
However, the company has lost big with other recent investments, including a bet on Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian cannabis firm. Canopy’s value has plummeted as the pace of federal legalisation of marijuana in the US falters.
Last year, Constellation looked to reduce its exposure to Canopy by converting its common stock holding in the company into new exchangeable shares.
At the time, the group said the move was “aligned with Constellation’s focus on core beer and wine and spirits businesses and capital allocation priorities”.
The company also wrapped up its craft and speciality beer division this year, citing a desire to focus on its flagship brands. In 2015, Constellation splurged a then-record US$1bn on San Diego craft brewery Ballast Point, but sold the business to Kings & Convicts in 2019 for less than a tenth of that figure.
Constellation has been moving away from being a family-controlled business. As part of the restructure announced last year, Rob and Richard Sands agreed to step down from their roles as chairman of the board and and executive vice chairman of the board, respectively.
Rob Sands officially stepped down earlier this month.