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Exclusive: Bacardi Taps Company Veteran Mahesh Madhavan As CEO, Effective April 2018

March 6, 2017

Bacardi Ltd. has appointed a 20-year company veteran, Mahesh Madhavan, as its new CEO. Madhavan, who’s now Bacardi’s regional president of Asia, Middle East and Africa, will take over from current CEO Mike Dolan on April 1, 2018.

In the interim, the 54-year-old Madhavan will transition to a new role as Bacardi’s regional president of Europe, effective immediately. He’ll be based in Geneva until becoming CEO, and then move to Bacardi corporate headquarters in Bermuda.

During his two decades at Bacardi, Madhavan has served as managing director of markets including India, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as the regions of South Asia and Southeast Asia. In addition to his current regional role, he’s also been a member of Bacardi’s Global Leadership Team since 2014.

“Our board of directors formed a special committee to focus on succession, which is probably the single-most important issue for any board,” Bacardi chairman Facundo Bacardi told SND. “We concluded that Mike’s successor should be someone who understood the family culture, shared its values and had a long-term vision for the company. In the end, we all ended up in the same place. Mahesh has been with Bacardi for 20 years, he’s highly regarded, has strong operational and commercial experience, and is a consummate leader.”

Addressing Madhavan’s lack of U.S. exposure, Bacardi cited his broad experience and close ties within the company. “We have an incredibly strong leader in North America in Pete Carr, and Pete and Mahesh have an excellent relationship,” he noted. “So while Mahesh’s exposure to North America is a bit light, it’s something he’ll learn and embrace quickly. It’s a market where he’ll become as proficient as he is in the rest of the world.”

Dolan joined Bacardi’s board of directors in 2009 and became CEO in 2014. He’ll remain on the board until June of 2019, when he’ll retire from the company.

“Mahesh is a true globalist,” said Dolan. “He has come up through the system, and really understands Bacardi and the drinks industry. He was the obvious candidate.” –David Fleming

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