WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Keystone Processors Ltd. president and CEO Kelly Penner has resigned his position to pursue new opportunities and Astana Group LLC, led by Doug Cooper, has assumed full management responsibilities for the company.

"We are excited to be a part of this project,” said Cooper, who leads a management team with a track record for running successful beef plants in both North and South America. “We believe strongly in its future and its potential to benefit Manitoba cattle producers. Our goal is to get this plant fully operational as soon as possible."

These changes were made with mutual agreement and they are a positive step forward for the company, as they give it a new management team with strong international experience, the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council (MCEC), which is the company's major investor, added.

"Kelly Penner put in a lot of effort to bring federally-inspected beef slaughtering and processing capacity back to Manitoba,” said Kate Butler, MCEC's executive director. “He has invested his time and energy into this project to bring it to this stage. Collectively, we identified a need for a management team with more international beef-industry experience and have been working towards this transition for some time."

"The journey has been a rollercoaster ride and this decision has not been easy," said Penner who helped found the company in 2007 and who will continue to act as a special advisor to Keystone Processors' board of directors. "We have brought this company as far as we can with the help of some excellent partners. It's now time for another management team to use their expertise to finish the job.

"I remain very confident that the company will be successful and that Astana has the right mix of experienced personnel to make it happen,” he added. “I want to publicly thank the MCEC and both the provincial and federal governments for supporting this project and believing in the company. More importantly, I want to thank the cattle producers of Manitoba for supporting this project."