By Cristina Carlevaro and Elisa Anzolin
MILAN (Reuters) - Campari's CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz, who has helped to revitalise its Aperol aperitif during his 16 years in charge, will step down next April, the Italian spirits group said on Tuesday.
Matteo Fantacchiotti, who is currently Campari's managing director Asia Pacific, has been appointed as deputy CEO and will become the new chief executive from next April.
Shares in Campari fell by more than 5% in Milan after the departure of Kunze-Concewitz, who is 56, was announced.
"The piece of news comes as totally unexpected, the timing in particular, and is a negative one for the equity story, since Mr Kunze Concewitz boasted a strong reputation in the market and a longstanding experience at Campari," Mediobanca analysts said.
Fantacchiotti, 51, has been in his current role since 2020 and previously worked for Nestle, Diageo and Carlsberg.
"With an internal successor already announced, we expect continuity with the organic growth strategy, with perhaps a greater emphasis on Asia," Jefferies analysts said.
The management transition makes a transformational deal less likely in the immediate term for Campari, which is controlled by Italy's Garavoglia family, the Jefferies analysts added.
Earlier this year Campari's CEO told Reuters that, under a loyalty scheme, the majority shareholder had increased its voting rights, giving the group more flexibility to make a larger deal, with 20 billion euros of firepower.
Under Kunze-Concewitz, Campari roughly tripled its net sales and profitability, investing around 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) on acquisitions. Sales of Aperol have increased by 12 times since 2007 and it has become the group's largest brand.
Kunze-Concewitz, an Austrian citizen who was born in Istanbul, will remain as a non-executive director at Campari.
"The very strong health of our brands and our robust organisation now allow me to retire to pursue my personal passions and enjoy family life to the fullest," he said.
($1 = 0.9335 euros)
(Reporting by Cristina Carlevaro and Elisa Anzolin; writing by Keith Weir; editing by Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)