The joint venture between the U.S. operations of Molson Coors and SABMiller will create the No. 2 U.S. brewer with a 29% share of the market when it officially kicks off July 1, having received a green light from the U.S. Department of Justice on June 6. This morning, the new company unveiled its executive appointments and a few other details on a conference call with analysts and reporters.
Both CEOs staying
The brewers had previously said that Coors CEO Leo Kiely would hold the same title in the new venture, and that Miller CEO Tom Long would be president-chief commercial officer. So it was the identity of the combination's top marketer that held perhaps the most intrigue, particularly for the broad and diverse group of advertising, media and marketing-services agencies that currently handle an equally eclectic roster of brands including Coors Light and Miller Lite, Keystone, Miller High Life, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel's, Peroni and Molson.
Given MillerCoors' stated goal of saving $500 million in costs during its first three years, most agency partners have viewed the prospect of at least some consolidation as inevitable, though executives indicated nothing is imminent. "We currently have no plans [to consolidate]," Mr. England said in response to a question on the topic during the call. "Once we get past the close, I'm sure we'll have a good think about it."
Coors' major agencies include Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB; independent Taxi; Omnicom Group's Integer; and Avenue A/ Razorfish. Miller's major shops include Bartle Bogle Hegarty, part-owned by Publicis Groupe; WPP Group's Y&R; and Publicis Groupe' Saatchi & Saatchi, Starcom and Arc Worldwide.
Miller CMO to oversee Latin America
Miller's current chief marketing officer, Randy Ransom, is shifting into the role of senior VP with SABMiller's Latin American division. He will be based in Bogota, Colombia.
Other executive appointments at MillerCoors tended to split duties equitably. The two brewers' respective sales chiefs, Miller's Tom Cardella and Coors' Ed McBrien, were named eastern and western division presidents, respectively.
On the call, MillerCoors executives vowed to stay focused on their brands' performance through the transition period. Executives at the No. 1 brewer, Anheuser-Busch, have said repeatedly they intend to capitalize on any uncertainty and confusion within MillerCoors.
Uncertainty bubbles up
But A-B -- which has a share of about 49% of the U.S. market -- may now have even more uncertainty to deal with, as it has to cope with the prospect of a hostile takeover attempt by Belgium-based, Brazilian-run InBev.
Mr. Kiely declined to comment on the A-B situation, but he sounded confident about his own: "I don't think we're going to be distracted at all," he said.