In the Australian wine world's biggest and costliest furore in recent memory the Southcorp group has ousted the man at the centre of its $A400m ($US195m) share rout.

Southcorp investor relations manager Glenn Cunningham last week sent 12 analysts emails in which he said they might want to review their forecasts for the 2003 financial year because of the effects of "a poor 2000 vintage."

The following day Southcorp shares slumped 8.7% wiping $A330m and fell a further 1.5% on Monday taking the fall to $A400m. Southcorp made no announcement to the stock exchange about Cunningham's departure.

The matter is one of acute sensitivity in Australian financial markets. Following recent, though unrelated, uproars, regulatory authorities are acutely conscious of the need to observe market disclosure rules with all shareholders given access to information at the same time.

Although there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing and Southcorp's chief general counsel Martin Hudson told Australian journalists Cunningham's analysis contained no new news, the timing and investment climate had an immediate fallout.

Two of the other big four in the Australian wine industry reacted promptly. The Foster's Group said it did not expect its earnings to be impacted by the 2000 vintage impact on its Beringer Blass wine division. Its shares rose marginally on Monday.

BRL Hardy shares closed lower despite chief executive Stephen Millar's earlier assurance that the company was headed for double-digit growth this year. The fourth major, Orlando Wyndham, is directly unaffected being a subsidiary of the French Pernod Ricard.