Johannesburg - Graham Mackay, the executive who built SABMiller into the second-biggest brewer, has died at the age of 64.
He passed away yesterday morning with his family at his side, the company said.
Mackay stepped down as chief executive following surgery for a brain tumour on April 22. He resumed his role as non-executive chairman on September 5, before again stepping back last month.
Widely regarded by investors as a measured, cerebral and “forward-thinking” company leader, Mackay held a number of senior positions in the group, including executive chairman, and oversaw a period of growth and expansion in the US, eastern Europe, China and South America from its initial base in South Africa.
“Graham was a titan in the brewing industry,” Trevor Stirling, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein in London, said. “He was at the helm in the formative years when the company transformed from being leader in one emerging market to become the global number two brewer.”
John Manser, who was named chairman yesterday after acting in the role, said: “Graham was one of the most inspirational and successful leaders in international business by any measure.
“Everyone in the SABMiller family has been blessed by his vision, his loyalty, and his friendship during his 35 years with the group. He will be deeply missed.”
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said Mackay was “a phenomenal leader who took a South African giant and turned it into a multinational corporation that has held its own in a very competitive industry. Despite the success of SABMiller’s venture into the global arena, Mr Mackay never forgot his South African roots and remained proudly South African in international fora. He leaves behind a phenomenal legacy.”
The company said the board would make a further announcement in due course about the appointment of a chairman to succeed Manser for the longer term beyond his new retirement date of July 2015. – Bloomberg (Additional reporting staff reporter)