Bunge, the US agribusiness giant, has appointed board member Greg Heckman as acting CEO – and issued a warning on a key profitability metric.
Heckman, whose appointment takes effect immediately, replaces Soren Schroder, who Bunge said last month would step down when a replacement was found.
Bunge said today (22 January) its “CEO search committee continues its work and will seek to conclude the search as soon as practicable, while ensuring that the process is thorough and deliberate”.
Alongside the news on the CEO position, Bunge said “on a preliminary basis” it now expects its total segment adjusted EBIT in 2018 “to be below the previously-disclosed” US$1.045bn, which was the lower end of its outlook range.
Schroder’s departure was announced just weeks after Bunge had launched a “comprehensive strategic review” in the wake of shareholder pressure to sell the company.
On Heckman’s appointment, Bunge’s non-executive board chair, Kathleen Hyle, said: “Greg has been a valuable addition to our board and strategic review committee and we are pleased to appoint him as our acting CEO. With Greg in this role, we have a greater opportunity to leverage his perspective, deep industry knowledge and leadership experience, as we take action to improve our results and sharpen our operational focus and execution.”
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Bunge started its business review in October amid pressure from shareholders D.E. Shaw and Continental Grain Co. over the company’s performance. The latter had reportedly pressed for a sale months earlier after North American peer Archer Daniels Midland was said to be seeking to acquire the business.
Both Bunge and ADM are among the largest agricultural traders worldwide and feature in the so-called ABCD group of businesses, alongside Cargill and Louis Dreyfus.
Bunge also markets a range of consumer-facing products, including Brazilian rice-to-margarine brand Primor, Optima margarine in Europe and Komili olive oil in Turkey.