Bunge, the US-based agri-food business, today (31 October) announced a review of its operations in the appointment of new directors amid reported pressure from activist investors.

The company, said to have faced agitation over its performance from shareholders D.E. Shaw and Continental Grain Co., said the “comprehensive, strategic review” would focus on “enhancing long-term shareholder value”.

A committee made up of three Bunge directors, two newly-appointed board members and Continental Grain Co. chair and CEO Paul Fribourg will carry out the review and make recommendations to the company’s board and CEO Soren Schroder.

“While the industry has faced some challenges over the last few years, we believe that Bunge, with its unparalleled asset base, has all the elements to further strengthen its position as a world-class leader in the global agribusiness industry,” Fribourg said.

In March, it was reported fellow agri-food business Continental Grain was putting Bunge under pressure to sell up after the business was said to have entered talks with North American peer Archer Daniels Midland.

Early in February, Archer Daniels Midland was said by Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, to be on the verge of buying up Bunge. When approached by just-food, neither company would comment on the report.

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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.

Quentin Koffey, portfolio manager at the investment and technology development firm D.E. Shaw, said: “Bunge is extremely well-positioned within the broader agribusiness and food sector. We believe that the fresh perspectives and exceptional backgrounds of these new directors – as well as the strategic review to be conducted by the newly formed committee – will help ensure the company can maximize its potential and create significant shareholder value moving forward.”

Alongside the announcement of the review, Bunge said it had appointed three new board members: Fribourg, plus Gregory Heckman, the founding partner of Flatwater Partners and Jay Winship, the president of Pacific Point Capital.

Bunge, Continental Grain and D.E. Shaw reached an agreement to appoint the three directors as well as a fourth, “mutually agreeable independent director” to be appointed by the end of the year.