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
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.
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."
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.