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Ayala picks CEO's brother Fernando as first new chief in 15 years

Jaime Augusto stays on as chairman of Philippine conglomerate, decoupling roles

MANILA -- The run of Philippine conglomerate Ayala's longtime chief will draw to a close next year as his younger brother takes over in April.

Outgoing CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, 61, will remain chairman and focus on that job, according to the company. Fernando Zobel de Ayala, 60, will move up from chief operating officer to CEO while continuing as president.

The leadership change marks the first in 15 years at the company, one of the nation's oldest.

Ayala has "the opportunity, with this move of decoupling the chairman and CEO roles, to reflect an evolving global best practice in environment, social and corporate governance," Jaime Augusto said in a news release Thursday.

The new leadership is seen giving Fernando more chances to make important managerial decisions.

Ayala's outgoing CEO, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, will stay on as chairman.

The brothers see such "planned leadership transitions" as "critical ingredients for sustainable success," Jaime Augusto said.

Ayala started out in 1834 as a distillery during the Spanish colonial rule. The group grew rapidly after World War II through real estate development in Manila and now spans banking, telecommunications, energy and other areas.

COVID-19 dealt a severe blow to Ayala, which shut shopping malls during lockdown. January-September net profit tumbled 75% on the year to 11.3 billion pesos ($235 million) on a 30% sales decline to 133.1 billion pesos.

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