Brown Foreman CEO to retire, new CEO named

Paul Varga (Source: Brown Forman)
Paul Varga (Source: Brown Forman)
Updated: May. 29, 2018 at 8:05 PM EDT
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Paul Varga (Source: Brown Forman)
Paul Varga (Source: Brown Forman)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Brown-Forman Corporation announced on Tuesday that after a distinguished 31 years of service at the company, Chief Executive Officer Paul C. Varga has decided to retire, effective December 31, 2018.

"It has been a privilege to serve Brown-Forman over the last three decades," said Varga. " In determining the best time to implement the final piece of this succession plan, I naturally considered the readiness of the company to navigate a leadership transition such as this, and now is the right time. Also, having worked with Lawson over the last two decades, I believe, and the Board has concluded, that he is ideally suited and very well prepared to succeed as Brown-Forman's next CEO."

"On behalf of our Board of Directors, the employees, and all Brown-Forman shareholders, I would like to express my gratitude to Paul for leading the extended Brown Forman community for the last 15 years," said chairman of the board George Garvin Brown IV.

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Varga will be succeeded by Lawson E. Whiting, a 21-year veteran of the company. Whiting currently serves as EVP and Chief Operating Officer. He will become the tenth executive leader of Brown-Forman, since its founding in 1870 by George Garvin Brown.

"I am honored and excited to become Brown-Forman's next CEO," said Whiting. "I am taking on this responsibility at a time when the company is performing very well thanks to Paul, my colleagues across the company, and the support of the Brown family and the Board of Directors. We will continue to focus on the premium American Whiskey category and further strengthen our super-premium brand portfolio, as well as develop our people around the world. I look forward to leading Brown-Forman into its next generation of growth."

Varga will remain on the Brown-Forman Board of Directors after his retirement.

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