ADM revamp sees Asia HQ shifted out of China

Archer Daniels Midland is to shift its Asia-Pacific headquarters out of China, and open sales offices in the likes of South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, in a shake-up of its regional operations, which has also seen a hiring from Australia's GrainCorp.

US-based ADM, which is moving its world head office from Decatur in Illinois into Chicago, said that it would shift its Asia-Pacific headquarters from Shanghai, where it opened in 2005, to Singapore.

The move, while contrasting with the rush by many Western groups to China, will allow the group to "centralise coordination" of its regional operation, with Singapore "the hub of the company's regional merchandising operations", which handle more than $14bn of commodities a year.

"We're taking a series of actions to enhance our ability to efficiently serve [the region's] growing demand," said Patricia Woertz, the ADM chief executive.

Singapore is also the base of rivals such as Wilmar International, Olam International and Noble Group, the coal-to-energy group which is putting its agriculture operations into a joint venture with China's state-owned food giant Cofco.

ADM is in China building a complex at the port of Tianjin, in the north of the country, to produce sweeteners and soluble fibre, to begin production next year, when the group is also to open an animal feed ingredient plant in Nanjing.

Ex-GrainCorp boss joins

The regional revamp will also see ADM open offices in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam for selling speciality ingredients, adding to the teams the group already has in Australia, China, Japan and Singapore.

And in logistics, the group is hiring as regional director for ports and storage Nigel Hart, who last year quit as group general manager storage and logistics at GrainCorp, the Australian grain handler which ADM was blocked from buying by Canberra, and in which it retains a 20% stake.

ADM's failed Aus$3.4bn bid for GrainCorp re-emerged in the news this week when Brian Wilson, chairman of Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board, conceded that the takeover was blocked for political reasons, although saying that the decision was legitimate.

"From time to time politics intrudes into all areas of our lives," Mr Wilson said.

Joe Hockey, the Australian federal treasurer responsible for blocking the bid, said that "I make no apologies for my decision.

"I have to make a decision where that investment would be contrary to the national interest and that is certainly where I step in and I am not afraid to do so."

Group revamp

ADM has, since the failed GrainCorp bid, unveiled a broad-ranging corporate shake-up which has seen it sell fertilizer assets in Brazil and Paraguay, and put its chocolate division up for sale, reversing on plans to sell cocoa operations themselves.

It has also bought the outstanding 20% stake in Toepfer, the international crop trader into which ADM launched a "significant review" after setbacks from issues such as cancelled corn imports to China.

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