Harry Debney to remain interim CEO until end of 2023 as group prepares for potential acquisition by Paine Schwartz Partners

Costa's interim CEO Harry Debney

Costa’s interim CEO Harry Debney

Leading Australian fresh producer grower-packer-marketer Costa Group has announced that Harry Debney will continue in his role as interim chief executive officer (CEO) until 31 December 2023. 

In an ASX announcement, Costa said the board had decided to pause its search for a new CEO following the recent acquisition bid for the group from US private equity firm Paine Schwartz Partners (PSP), announced on 4 July.

Costa chief operating officer (COO) Marc Werner has also been appointed deputy CEO to focus on operational performance, allowing Debney to concentrate on the potential acquisition process and “strategic direction” of the group.

“The board has given consideration to the importance of providing appropriate leadership attention on the potential acquisition process whilst continuing to ensure that Costa remains totally focused on operations and ensuring an optimal outcome for the 2023 financial year,” said the ASX announcement.

“Acknowledging that Harry will be devoting considerable time on the potential acquisition process, the board has decided to appoint Costa’s COO Marc Werner to the position of deputy CEO with immediate effect, with broadened accountability for business performance under Harry’s direction.”

Werner was appointed COO of Costa in September 2022, and chairman Neil Chatfield highlighted the contribution he has made since joining the group.

“Marc came to Costa with considerable experience developed through an extensive career with BMW, where he spent 22 years working through the organisation in various roles culminating as regional director Asia Pacific, and then as an executive director for Deloitte driving marketing and media assurance,” said Chatfield.

“Since his appointment, Marc has proven himself to be an exceptionally talented senior executive, overseeing the improvement in Costa’s 2PH citrus performance and developing an intimate knowledge of all aspects of Costa’s domestic business.”

All of Costa’s business unit general managers, including those in the international business, will report to Werner in his new role.

While its search for a new CEO has been suspended, Costa said it would review the decision once there is greater certainty over the PSP acquisition proposal.