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Cargill shakes up leadership structure

November 19, 2015
Food & Drink

Cargill Inc. said it is streamlining its leadership team, as Chief Executive David MacLennan’s steers a shake-up of the 150-year-old agricultural conglomerate to make it nimbler and more focused.

The move, announced Tuesday, replaces Cargill’s previous, two-tiered leadership structure with a single team comprising 10 executives, including heads of its grain, animal feed, meat, food ingredients, and energy units, along with executives overseeing finance and other company-level functions.

Mr. MacLennan, two years into his tenure atop the Minnesota-based agriculture giant, is shifting Cargill’s portfolio toward businesses that yield higher profits and hold better long-term prospects. Cargill, which generated $120.4 billion in sales last year and ranks among the world’s largest privately owned companies, over the past five months has sold its U.S. pork business, announced the spinoff of a hedge-fund unit, closed its purchase of Archer Daniels Midland’s industrial chocolate operations and agreed to acquire a Norwegian maker of salmon feed.

Mr. MacLennan is pushing the revamp as Cargill’s earnings have been volatile, with the company reporting a 20% jump in fiscal first-quarter profits last month after disclosing in August its first quarterly loss in 14 years.

“This change is aimed at simplifying our leadership structure and increasing the speed of decision making,” Mr. MacLennan said in a statement Tuesday.

Cargill’s existing strategic leadership team has 24 members, including senior-level executives, business unit leaders and corporate vice presidents. The new team, which will guide the company’s strategy, will move into place Dec. 1. Besides Mr. MacLennan, it will include Chief Financial Officer Marcel Smits, human resources head LeighAnne Baker, technology and services head Kathy Fortmann, and plant operations chief Ruth Kimmelshue.

Also joining are meat business leader Todd Hall, grain trading head G.J. van den Akker, food ingredients head Frank van Lierde, animal nutrition head Joe Stone, and David Dines, who oversees energy, ocean transport and metals trading.

Separately, Cargill’s vice chairmen, Paul Conway and Emery Koenig, will retire in the months ahead after helping Mr. MacLennan form the new group, the company said.

By Jacob Bunge

Source: Wall Street Journal

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