Mass Exodus at Coors

Eleven executives at Molson Coors Brewing Co. are quitting in the wake of the recent merger, triggering severance costs for the company of up to $17 million.

The management-level employees chose to exercise a change-in-control clauses in their contracts, the company, now based in Montreal and Golden, Colo., announced last week.

“Most of these departures will be staged over the next several months to ensure a smooth, orderly transition and to take the company through its key summer selling season,” CEO Leo Kiely said in a release. “I am looking forward to working with the rest of the management team to build an even stronger organization and a more competitive and diverse company.”

The following are leaving the main company: Rob Klugman, chief strategy officer; Bob Reese, chief legal officer, Mara Swan, chief people officer; Ronald Tryggestad, chief accounting officer; and Jim Fredericks, vice-president for global rewards.

Leaving Coors Brewing U.S. are: David Barnes, chief financial officer; Carl Barnhill, chief revenue officer; Kevin Holland, chief people officer; Jeff Popkin, regional vice-president, sales; Olivia Thompson, VP for corporate excellence.

Katherine MacWilliams, chief financial officer of Britain’s Coors Brewers Ltd. Also announced her departure.

“Several of these positions have already been filled or will be filled in the near future,” the company said. “Recruiting for the remaining open positions has already begun, as the company seeks both internal and external candidates to join the management team.”

Tryggestad has agreed to stay as chief accounting officer until his replacement is hired in the next few months.

“Many of these people have been with the company for a long time, and have made terrific contributions to where we are today,” Kiely said. “We wish them well and we will miss them.”

The big severance expense is to be charged in the first quarter of 2005.

Molson Coors Brewing is now the fifth-largest brewer in the world.