Blog: Chris Brook-CarterAnalysts in a froth

Chris Brook-Carter | 15 September 2003

I read an interesting report at the end of last week regarding the arrival at Interbrew of its new CFO. Though I must confess to knowing only a little about Francoise Jacolot, his lack of experience within the drinks industry has taken me by surprise. It is not a fact that has been lost on the investment community, according to a straw poll conducted by Reuters, which seems to have greeted his appointment with a healthy dose of caution.

This is not entirely surprising given that his relationship with investors in his last post, as financial officer at the French utility company Suez, was strained by the time he departed.

Rightly or wrongly, the financial community held Jacolot responsible for Suez's hefty debt problems of €27 billion.

To what extent he was actually at fault is impossible to tell, but only time will tell if he is now the right man to lead Interbrew in its current drive to cut costs and improve productivity.

Samples of quotes from the Reuters report include: "His lack of experience in the industry is a concern to us." And, "We are a bit cautious regarding his track record and reputation when at Suez."

Jacolot, of course is not the only man facing trial by the media/city in the beer industry at present. Tony Froggart, S&N's relatively new CEO, has taken the reigns in arguable the most important period of S&N's recent history, as the company tries to re-emerge from the sale of its pub estate as a pure beer player.

There is an excellent article in today's Times, also available online, by the newspaper's well-regarded drinks correspondent Dominic Walsh. If you want the latest on how Froggart has begun his tenure and the challenges he still faces, I recommend you read it.

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