Blog: Chris Brook-CarterLike a bat out of hell

Chris Brook-Carter | 29 November 2004

What are we to make of the departure of Bacardi CEO Javier Ferran last week? The official line is that it was for personal reasons and there is no obvious evidence to doubt the press releases.

But Ferran is not the first Bacardi boss to leave unexpectedly - Chip Read threw in the towel when he found his plans to take Bacardi public had run aground on the vested interests of family shareholders.

Read’s departure was a victory for those Bacardi family members who argued that there was no need to go public in order to compete against the likes of Diageo and Allied Domecq. Though his reasons for leaving may be personal, Ferran’s decision also favours the private camp. It will certainly put any plans for an IPO on ice while the company searches for a new CEO with the diplomatic skills needed to navigate the family politics at Bacardi.

Furthermore one cannot help but wonder if Ferran’s departure is another sign the ‘stay private’ campaign is in the ascendancy again. Would Ferran have left had he felt a lucrative IPO pay-off was on offer in the short to medium term?

As it is, chairman Rubin Rodriguez is back in charge and among the press and investment community he is seen as a “family-man” who is unlikely to push through a public flotation against stiff opposition.

That said, with cash flow still strong and the potential success of the Grey Goose acquisition under their belt, those in favour of remaining private have an argument that remains convincing.


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