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Gavilon names former ADM exec as CEO in management reshuffle

February 29, 2016
Food & Drink

Gavilon LLC has hired a former executive at rival Archer Daniels Midland to take the helm as part of a major management reshuffle that is the latest sign a commodities rout is forcing changes at global grains merchants.

Gavilon, owned by Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp, named Lewis Batchelder as chief executive officer to replace Jim Anderson, making him the company’s second boss in less than two years.

Batchelder, who has worked in the grain industry for more than 40 years, said in a statement that he will focus on profitability and not change Gavilon’s day-to-day operations. He will start as CEO on Tuesday.

“I look forward to leveraging Marubeni’s expansive network to grow and improve the company, all with the goal of helping Gavilon, our producers and our customers to operate as profitably as possible,” he said.

Batchelder takes over at a tough time for commodities merchants as prices of oil, metals, corn and soybeans have tumbled amid concerns about faltering growth and oversupplies.

In the United States, grains prices have slumped after large harvests, while the strong U.S. dollar has hurt export demand.

Gavilon, which has roots that go back more than 140 years, confirmed Reuters’ report that the former CEO Anderson, who was also president, Greg Konsor, who was head of the grains business, and Chief Operating Officer John Neppl left the company.

Marubeni changed Gavilon’s management structure to promote growth, and the executives decided to step down as a result, according to a company memo.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based merchant has scheduled a company-wide meeting on Monday to introduce Batchelder, known as Lew. He was previously senior vice president for agriculture services at ADM.

In another change, Chris Faust has been promoted to vice president and general manager of North American grain business. Brian Carleton will continue as vice president of operations.

The sudden departures at Gavilon, which competes with global traders Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] and ADM, come a month after its parent halved its annual profit forecast due to plunging commodities prices.

Marubeni had warned that Gavilon was underperforming and booked a goodwill impairment loss of about 50 billion yen related to its acquisition of the merchant in 2013.

The reshuffle also comes just two days after one of Gavilon’s customers, the U.S. bioenergy unit of Abengoa SA , filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with up to $10 billion in debt.

By Chris Prentice, Michael Hirtzer and Tom Polansek

Source: Reuters

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