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Graincorp CEO set to walk

Graincorp Limited (ASX:GNC) CEO Alison Watkins resigns from her post just days after Treasurer Joe Hockey’s blocking of a $3.4 billion takeover offer from US company Archer Daniels Midland.

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Hard on the heels of the federal government's decision to block a $3.4 billion takeover bid for GrainCorp, the chief executive, Alison Watkins, is to quit the company to take over as chief executive of Coca-Cola Amatil.

On Friday, the Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, rejected a takeover offer for the company from US grains group Archer Daniel Midlands, in the national interest, sparking domestic and overseas criticism.

Walking away: Alison Watkins.

Walking away: Alison Watkins. Photo: Rob Homer

Ms Watkins is to leave the company by the end of January, the company said this morning.

"I have carefully weighed my options over the past two days," Ms Watkins said in a statement.

"I had planned to leave the company at the time control passed over to ADM. Given last week's unexpected developments, I feel it is in the best interests of GrainCorp, our people and customers that I move on now and allow the board to find new leadership to take the business forward into its new phase," she said.

"My career and experience to date puts me in an excellent position to lead Coca-Cola Amatil in its next chapter of growth."

While running GrainCorp, Ms Watkins has spent close to $1.5 billion on a series of acquisitions that have taken the company into the malt trade as well as the oilseeds and bulk liquids storage businesses, in an attempt to offset the cyclical nature of the company's traditional grains handling business.

In the interim, the company's chairman, Don Taylor, will step in as executive chairman and take over as the acting chief executive from mid-January, pending the replacement of Ms Watkins with a full time appointment.

Mr Taylor is a former executive chairman of Grainco, which was folded into GrainCorp earlier.

Mr Taylor said Mr Hockey's decision had come as a surprise to the company and Ms Watkins' departure was regrettable.

"It is with great regret that the board has accepted Alison's resignation. However, we respect her decision to move on, particularly when a change of control in GrainCorp was broadly expected to occur over the coming weeks," he said.

"The expectation in the investment community was that ADM's offer for GrainCorp would be approved and effected in the near term."

with AAP