CEO of Corona maker Constellation Brands steps down

Rob Sands to become Constellation executive chair

By CNN'S PAUL R. LA MONICA CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
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Rob Sands, the CEO of Corona maker Constellation Brands

(CNN) - Rob Sands, the CEO of Corona maker Constellation Brands, is stepping down. He will hand over the reins to the company's president and chief operating officer, Bill Newlands, in March, the company said Wednesday.

Sands, who spent more than a decade as president and CEO of Constellation Brands (STZ), said Newlands "has made a significant impact" on the company since he joined in 2015.

"Bill understands what it takes to succeed in this rapidly evolving market and he's the right person to lead our company going forward," he added.

Once Newlands becomes CEO, Sands will become Constellation Brands' executive chair, replacing his brother Richard Sands. Richard Sands will become executive vice chair.

Constellation Brands, which also owns SVEDKA vodka and Casa Noble tequila, made a number of profitable decision with Sands at the helm.

In 2013, the company acquired Grupo Modelo's US beer business, including Corona and Modelo. Sands also expanded the company's liquor and spirits portfolio, and sold off underperforming international brands. Over the past five years, the company's stock has soared by more than 255%.

Most recently, the company made a huge bet on the cannabis industry.

In August, Constellation Brands spent $4 billion bet to boost its stake in cannabis company Canopy Growth (CGC).

The company first invested in Canopy Growth last year, when it bought a 10% stake. August's move upped its holding in Canopy to 38%, and leaves open the option to purchase a majority controlling share of more than 50%.

"This could potentially be one of the most significant global growth opportunities for the next decade," Sands said of the decision.

Constellation Brands announced the news on the day that recreational cannabis officially became legal in Canada.

Canopy's stock has ballooned 114% this year, but fell over 4% on Wednesday.

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