SABMiller's veteran chairman dies of cancer

Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:54am EST
 
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By Martinne Geller

LONDON (Reuters) - Graham Mackay, the chairman of brewer SABMiller SAB.L and one of the best-known figures in the global consumer goods industry, died on Wednesday from cancer. He was 64.

Mackay spent 35 years at SABMiller, steering its transformation from a South African industrial conglomerate to the world's second-largest beer maker with annual sales of $34.5 billion and 200 brands including Miller Lite, Peroni and Pilsner Urquell.

He helped steer the consolidation of the brewing industry through a string of acquisitions over two decades that began following the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and the lifting of sanctions on Mackay's native South Africa.

He was chief executive from 1999 when the company - then called South African Breweries - listed on the London Stock Exchange, until April this year when he took a medical leave of absence following surgery on a brain tumor.

The reins were picked up by fellow South African Alan Clark, who was already slated to become CEO in July with Mackay's planned retirement.

Mackay recovered enough to resume his duties as chairman in September but his condition suddenly worsened in November, and he took a further leave.

He died peacefully on Wednesday morning, the company said, surrounded by his family, which includes three adult sons and three school-age sons from two marriages.

With a background in engineering, Mackay had a reputation for knowing all there was to know about beer, including the science involved in its production.   Continued...

 
Graham Mackay, Chief Executive, SABMiller, of Britain, attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, in this file January 25, 2012 photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann