UPDATE 1-Kenya's EABL abruptly replaces its chief executive

Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:35am EST

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* Names Charles Ireland as new CEO for the group

* Hainsworth stayed at the helm for less than a year (Adds details, share price)

NAIROBI Feb 22 (Reuters) - Kenya's leading brewer East African Breweries said on Friday its chief executive Devlin Hainsworth, who only took up the job in July last year, would resign at the end of March.

The company, ranked as one of the most heavily traded firms at the Nairobi bourse, did not say why Hainsworth was stepping down. The announcement came a week after EABL reported a 13 percent drop in pretax profit for its first-half ended last December due to a surge in financing costs.

EABL said Hainsworth would be leaving Diageo.

The group, which is controlled by Britain's Diageo, named Charles Ireland to replace Hainsworth starting from the beginning of April, it said in a statement.

Ireland, who joined Diageo in 1997, will be joining EABL from Malaysia where he has been running Guinness Anchor Berhad, a joint venture between Diageo and Asia Pacific Breweries.

EABL's share price was trading one percent up at 281 shillings ($3.21)after the news of his departure.

($1 = 87.6500 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Richard Lough)

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