Molson Coors UK CEO Mark Hunter has been picked to lead StarBev, the Central European business bought by Molson Coors last month for $3.5bn (£2.17bn).

Hunter has been CEO of Molson Coors’ UK and Ireland business since 2007, before which he was chief commercial officer for the Carling brewer’s Canadian arm. The 20-year industry veteran has also worked for Bass Brewers and Bulmers Drinks.

Molson Coors bought StarBev – the owner of Staropramen – as a way into the emerging markets of Central and Southern Europe, lessening its s dependence on the more mature UK and North American markets.

Prague-based StarBev has breweries in Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Montenegro, as the Czech Republic, and also sells its brands in Bosnia and Slovakia.

Molson Coors president Peter Swinburn claimed Hunter was the perfect fit for StarBev because of his brand-building and leadership credentials.

“We are fortunate to have a proven leader ready to step into this new business and drive results from day one,” he said.

As a result of the move to StarBev, Hunter has stepped down from his role as chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association.

Hunter has been an outspoken and sometimes controversial figure during his time in the UK. He led calls for the government to remove the unpopular duty escalator on beer but has been criticised by rivals for his support of the government’s plan to introduce a minimum per unit price for alcohol.

He will be replaced at Molson Coors by global chief financial officer Stewart Glendenning. The moves are expected to take place once the StarBev deal has been completed at the end of the current quarter. Alain Beyens, the current boss of StarBev, will leave the business then.

Glendenning is no stranger to the UK operation. Before taking up his current role he was chief financial officer for Molson Coors UK.

“Stewart brings deep knowledge of the UK marketplace and a lot of first-hand experience working with our big customers there,” said Swinburn.