Beer, cannabis powerhouse Constellation loses its CEO

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Rob Sands will hand over the reins, but stay on as an adviser

Constellation Brands may be best known as the company behind Corona beer, but it is also one of the first beverage companies to embrace the marijuana industry. Now, its leader of 11 years, Rob Sands, has decided to pass the torch and will step down as of next March.

Sands has been the CEO since 2007. He steered the ship through times that saw Constellation purchase Corona and become one of the first companies in the alcohol industry to recognize the power of cannabis. This past April, Constellation purchased Canada-based cannabis producer Canopy Growth for $4 billion.

In relinquishing his position, the 60-year-old industry expert will become the company’s chairman of the board, a position currently held by his brother, Richard. In the new role, he will be tasked with overseeing the company’s investment in Canopy Growth and helping it to flourish.

Bill Newlands, who currently serves as the company’s president, will take over as its CEO. He is the first person not part of the Sands family to be elected to run the company. However, the selection of Newlands isn’t surprising. It falls in line with a plan to have the company overseen by the family but run by industry veterans. As Macquarie Research analysts pointed out, “The Street may welcome a non-family CEO, although this does mark the end of an incredibly successful tenure for Rob Sands. Newlands has a strong team reporting to him, so we expect no changes in Constellation’s strategy.”