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News Alert: Brown-Forman’s Varga To Retire At Year-End, Whiting Named CEO

May 29, 2018

Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga, who has helmed the drinks giant since 2003, will retire December 31, 2018. Varga will be replaced by Lawson Whiting, currently executive vice president and chief operating officer, who was unanimously approved by the board of directors and will become the tenth executive leader of the company since its founding in 1870.

Brown-Forman credited Varga with focusing the company’s business on its premium spirits portfolio, expanding its global presence, launching significant innovations, and propelling an almost sixfold rise in the group’s market capitalization, which is now around $28 billion. Varga, who has been with the company for three decades, will remain on Brown-Forman’s board of directors.

Whiting, 49, began his career with Brown-Forman in corporate development and investor relations and was promoted to several leadership positions over the years. Prior to his current role as COO, Whiting was executive vice president, chief brands and strategy officer from 2015-2017, during which time the company acquired BenRiach in Scotland, launched Slane Irish Whiskey, and undertook significant investments in the Woodford Reserve and Old Forester Bourbon brands. Before that he was senior vice president and chief brands officer (2013 to 2015) and senior vice president and managing director for Western Europe from 2011 to 2013.—Daniel Marsteller

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