Louis Dreyfus CEO quits after less than a year

Ciro Echesortu is to step down as chief executive of Louis Dreyfus Commodities after less than a year in post, in a move the commodities giant said was aimed at supporting its development towards a "leaner, more agile operational model".

The group - with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill, one of the ABCD group of agricultural commodities trading giants - said that it had begun an "active search process" for a replacement for Mr Echesortu, who was appointed chief executive in June 30 last year.

He will leave the post on June 1, after he "asked to step back from his current role", but will remain an advisor to the group, as head of strategy.

The Louis Dreyfus Commodities finance director, Claude Ehlinger, will act as interim chief executive until a permanent successor is found.

Long-standing employee

Mr Echesortu had already been with Louis Dreyfus Commodities (LDC) for 28 years at the time of his appointment, serving as the company's head of South Latin America before being promoted to chief operating officer in 2009.

"I have complete confidence that Ciro is the right person to be our next leader," Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, the chairperson of Louis Dreyfus Holdings, said in June last year.

"As someone with deep company history and invaluable business knowledge, Ciro's appointment is the logical choice that clearly guarantees strong continuity in terms of management and strategy."

However, the group said on Friday that it was continuing an "organisational transformation" which is spurring heavy investment in facilities such as ports and processing plants, has taken it to the debt markets, and is believed to have seen it consider a stockmarket flotation too.

Ms Louis-Dreyfus said last month, as LDC unveiled a 33% drop in earnings for 2013, that the group was, "while maintaining the spirit of a family company… now aligning our business model and operations more closely with those of a publicly-listed company".

'Transformation' process

She said on Friday, that "one year ago, we agreed with Ciro Echesortu to begin a transition under his leadership, aiming to adapt our strategy and accelerate the group's transformation, in order to reinforce our leading position in the industry.

"Thanks to our solid performance in 2013, the conditions are now right to implement a longer-term solution."

Mr Ehlinger, who joined LDC from satellite group Eutelsat seven years ago, said that the group was "reinforcing" its organisational structure "by combining it with new technical knowledge and ongoing improvements in the way we do business.

"We are on our way to attaining the leaner, more agile organisational model that we aspire to, and there has been significant progress already."

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