Bunge Ltd on Thursday named Gregory Heckman as its new chief executive officer, three months after he stepped in as acting CEO at the embattled global grains merchant stung by slumping grain prices and a bruising U.S.-China trade war.
Heckman, a founding partner of private investment firm Flatwater Partners and the former chief executive of grains trader Gavilon Group, was appointed acting CEO in January after long-serving CEO Soren Schroder was removed.
The leadership change follows a turbulent period for the two-century-old company as profits in its core grain trading, handling and processing business thinned due to a global supply glut and a U.S.-China trade war that redrew global commodity flows.
“After a thorough, global search process, the board clearly recognized that Greg has the unique combination of expertise, vision and leadership to successfully lead Bunge,” Kathleen Hyle, Bunge’s non-executive board chair, said in a statement.
Heckman joined the Bunge board late last year as part of a deal to ease activist investor pressure on the company following a string of weak results that made Bunge vulnerable to takeover attempts by rival Archer Daniels Midland Co and global commodities trader Glencore Plc.
The appointment of Heckman, who headed Gavilon in 2012 when it was sold to Japanese trading house Marubeni, is likely to stoke market expectations for large merger and acquisition deals involving Bunge and its rivals, including an outright sale of the company, said Morningstar analyst Seth Goldstein.
Bunge has been undergoing a strategic review of its businesses and has not ruled out a sale of the company.
“It leaves the option on the table, whereas Bunge management previously had been resistant to being acquired or even wanting to discuss that with potential acquirers,” Goldstein said.
Bunge is one of the “ABCD” quartet of global grain merchants, which include ADM, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Co. As profits in grain trading have thinned, the companies have been cutting costs and expanding into higher-margin businesses such as food ingredients and specialty oils.
Rival ADM, which is due to report quarterly results on Friday, said this month that it will seek voluntary early retirements by some employees and may eliminate jobs as part of a restructuring of specific areas.
Bunge is scheduled to report first-quarter results on May 8.
Shares of White Plains, New York-based Bunge closed down 4.9 percent on Thursday at $48.60, ahead of the CEO announcement.
By Karl Plume and Shanti S Nair
Nestle SA has accelerated its product development process by 60% since 2016, according to the company. The faster speed to market has been achieved through a restructuring of its research and development process. Now the company is investing in various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to further improve its R&D process and generate better results.
German chemicals distributor Brenntag has confirmed potential takeover talks with US rival Univar Solutions and is understood to be debating the feasibility of a potential acquisition in the coming months. Univar Solutions confirms that it has received a preliminary indication of interest from Brenntag regarding a potential transaction.
Cargill has announced the acquisition of Owensboro Grain Company, a soybean processing facility and refinery located in Kentucky. The purchase of the Owensboro-based company will support Cargill’s efforts to “modernise and increase capacity across its North American oilseeds network to support growing demand for oilseeds driven by food, feed and renewable fuel markets”.