Adrian McKeon, chief executive of iconic beer brand Cobra, has departed suddenly ahead of a likely break-up of the business, The Times reports.

Cobra’s UK business is to be taken over by Carling brewer Molson Coors, while the Indian division will be sold to US investor Wilbur Ross.

McKeon joined Cobra in August 2007 after two years as managing director of Beam Global Spirits & Wine UK – a move that allowed Cobra founder Lord Bilimoria to become non-executive chairman.

Bilimoria is understood to have attempted to sell a 30% stake in the privately owned business to Diageo last year but the parties were unable to agree on a valuation. Cobra lost £15.9m last year on an underlying basis against net sales of £34.1m.