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Dreyfus ends 17-month quest for CEO by promoting Asia head

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Louis Dreyfus Commodities ended a 17-month search for a chief executive by appointing one of its own rising stars, Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena, who in a decade at the group has risen from sea freight operator to head of Asia.

Louis Dreyfus Commodities - with Archers Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill one of the big-four agricultural trading houses – said that Mr Ramirez would on October 1 take on his new role, a position which has proved a long-time source of unease for the group.

Ciro Echesortu, appointed to the post after long-time incumbent Serge Schoen stepped down in June 2013, quit after less than year in the role.

And while the group then appointed Mayo Schmidt, a former head of Canadian grains trader Viterra, he never took up the post, with a statement one week before he was due to have started the job saying that he and LDC had "jointly decided not to proceed with the engagement".

'Entrepreneurial spirit'

Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, the chair of holding company Louis Dreyfus Holdings, said that Mr Ramirez "stood out as a strong internal candidate during an extensive and rigorous search process", that had also looked outside the group.

Gonzalo was "well placed to drive our company forward during this time of change for the entire agribusiness industry, as we strive to provide for a growing global population".

She added: "I have had the opportunity to closely follow Gonzalo's career, and have been impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices."

Rising star

Mr Ramirez spent 15 years at crop trader Nidera, becoming director of its cereals division, and was a consultancy for Macquarie before joining LDC, where one of his early roles was a sea freight operator in Paris.

After a spell in Madrid, developing the flours and cereals distribution market for the group's Spanish business, he in 2008 took charge of origination activities for southern Latin America,

He was appointed in 2012 as head of the group's operations and southern and western Latin America, before becoming head of Asia earlier this year.

He said on Friday: "I look forward to working closely with the board, the senior management team and all our talented colleagues around the world, as we continue to develop our global presence to meet the evolving needs of the world around us."

Management shuffle

The appointment brings an end to the spell as acting chief executive of Claude Ehlinger, originally the group finance director, but who will now become deputy chief executive.

The role of group financial officer has been handed to Sandrine Teran, currently the group's head of tax.

The announcement also comes a days after it emerged that Gert-Jan van den Akker, previously considered for the chief executive role at LDC, had returned to Cargill, where he will be a member of the so-called "leadership team", and "play an important role in driving Cargill's direction and goals".

Mr van den Akker early in the summer quit LDC a year after joining as head of the regions, having previously been executive vice-president Asia Pacific at Cargill.

Change at the top

LDC also revealed that Ms Dreyfus, controlling shareholder, had taken a closer grip by becoming chair of its supervisory board, also effective as of October 1, succeeding Mr Schoen, who will become deputy chairman.

"The transition is part of the evolution of the group's governance, as planned after Serge Schoen stepped down from the chief executive position," the company said.


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