A tiny ASX company which owns part of Maggie Beer’s gourmet food business has landed a former billion-dollar CEO, Laura McBain.

Primary Opinion (ASX:POP), which owns 48 per cent of Masterchef judge Maggie Beer’s food brand and is worth about $17 million, this week announced Ms McBain as its new managing director.

Ms McBain is best known for leading infant formula maker Bellamy’s (ASX:BAL) to a billion-dollar valuation.

The former Telstra business woman of the year was ousted from Bellamy’s in January, shortly after its share price halved following weaker-than-expected sales of its infant formula in China.

Under the agreement with Primary Opinion, Ms McBain will become a major shareholder with 70 million options exercisable at 2c and two other 35 million share tranches at 1.8c per share. She will also earn a $350,000 salary.

Stockhead could not reach Ms McBain for an interview, but she said in a statement: “I have a deep passion for the opportunities in the food industry and intend to leverage the years of knowledge built in my former roles combined with my determination and ambition for growing great Australian companies.”

Primary Opinion shareholder and former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett told the Financial Review: “She will be a better chief executive for having gone through that experience (at Bellamy’s). Often you have to go through those periods of adversity.”

The company’s shares rose sharply following the announcement, pushing to 2.4c, up from 1.6c on Monday – a premium of 60 per cent.

Primary Opinion’s shares have traded between 1c and 4c over the past year.

The company reported a net loss of $235,752 for the six months to December, despite Maggie Beer launching “two new pate flavours, two new ice-cream stick flavours and one new 500ml ice cream flavour”. It had $5 million in cash at the end of calendar 2016.