A2 Milk CEO Geoff Babidge to leave in 2018
A2 Milk Co managing director Geoff Babidge will retire next year, and will be replaced by Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka.
Babidge has been in the role since 2010, and in the past two years has seen the share price jump from around $1 at the end of 2015 to a recent record of $8.75. The shares have soared on the back of successive strong sales, with the company's infant formula attracting strong demand in China, and have gained recently on scientific evidence about the nutritional value of its milk, which comes from cows selected to produce only A2 beta-casein, unlike most dairy products, which contain both A1 and A2 proteins.
"Geoff’s retirement is part of a carefully planned transition programme which the board has put in place together with Geoff to create an orderly and successful handover which is designed to ensure that the current momentum of the business continues," a2 said in a statement. "Jayne is an outstanding senior executive with particular strengths highly relevant to a2MC’s next growth phase. These include her extensive experience in strategy formulation and execution, insight into customer-centricity and innovation and importantly an understanding of operating in a disruptive environment."
During 2017, a2's senior team has been reorganised "to further support the ongoing development of its significant businesses in Asia Pacific", with Peter Nathan appointed chief executive Asia Pacific, the company said.
Hrdlicka will begin around the start of the 2019 financial year and Babidge has agreed to be available until December 2018 to assist the transition. She was chief executive of Jetstar Group for the last five years, and a non-executive director of Woolworths.
"Jayne will be focused on continuing to build both the high performance of the business and the culture of the a2MC senior leadership team to support the company’s growth strategy across a broader nutritional products platform in both its established and new markets," chair David Hearn said.
"The company has achieved unprecedented growth during this time due primarily to his leadership in developing and executing a bold strategic vision and in skilfully managing the phases of growth achieved to date. We are therefore particularly pleased that Geoff has agreed to remain available to the company until the end of next year as an adviser to Jayne and the board as required to ensure a smooth handover and transition."
A2's shares last traded at $7.77, up 265 percent this year.