* Alison Watkins quits GrainCorp to head local Coke bottler
* Move follows Australia blocking ADM’s A$2.8 bln GrainCorp takeover
* GrainCorp shares slip 1.4 percent, CCA shares rise
SYDNEY, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The chief executive of GrainCorp Ltd has resigned just days after Australia’s government rejected a takeover of the grains handler by U.S. agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Inc.
Alison Watkins, who she had planned to leave GrainCorp once ADM had secured control of the company, will take over as managing director of Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd (CCA), the bottler said on Monday.
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey rejected ADM’s A$2.8 billion ($2.6 billion) bid for GrainCorp on Friday, bowing to pressure from grain growers in a rare and surprising decision.
“The expectation in the investment community was that ADM’s offer for GrainCorp would be approved and effected in the near term,” said Graincorp Chairman Don Taylor, who will assume a temporary role as executive chairman while a search for a replacement is conducted.
“In that context, it is not surprising that an executive of Alison’s calibre has attracted interest and had new opportunities presented to her.”
CCA said Watkins, who ran GrainCorp for three-and-a-half years, would start in March.
Shares in GrainCorp, which plunged by almost a quarter on Friday after Hockey rejected ADM’s bid, were down 1.4 percent on Monday.
The company, which dominates Australia’s east coast grains handling and storage business, has been diversifying with recent deals in the malting and oil seeds businesses. Its earnings however have come under pressure as grains harvests retreat from record volumes.
CCA shares rose 1.7 percent.