US agribusiness giant Cargill has appointed former Sara Lee chief executive, Marcel Smits, as its CFO.

Dutchman Smits, who became Sara Lee’s CEO in 2011, succeeds Sergio Rial who left Cargill in November to move back to his native Brazil. His post will be effective from 15 April.

Smits’ previous roles include a number of financial management positions for Unilever in Europe, Latin America and Asia throughout the mid-1980s and 1990s. He became CFO of Sara Lee in 2009 and was appointed CEO two years later.

Sara Lee, however, restructured its portfolio during his tenure and split itself into two separate companies: US meats and bakery group Hillshire Brands and tea and coffee firm D.E. Master Blenders.

Cargill chairman and CEO Greg Page said of the appointment: “Marcel Smits is a terrific addition to the Cargill leadership team. His global experience in financial management and the food industry will be a tremendous asset to the company.”

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