“Marcel Smits is a terrific addition to the Cargill leadership team. His global experience in financial management and the food industry will be a tremendous asset to the company,” said Cargill Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Greg Page.
Smits, a native of the Netherlands, served in a variety of financial management positions for Unilever in Europe, Latin America and Asia throughout the mid-1980s and 1990s, lastly as senior vice-president of finance for China. He subsequently served as CFO for two Dutch listed companies, first for Vendex KBB, a retail group, then for KPN, the country’s leading telecommunications service provider. Both Vendex KBB and KPN serve a variety of European markets. Smits became CFO of Sara Lee in 2009 and was appointed chief executive officer in early 2011. During his tenure at Sara Lee, the company restructured its portfolio and split itself into two separate companies, Hillshire Brands, a North American food company that maintains “Sara Lee” as one of its product brands, and D.E Master Blenders 1753, an international coffee and tea business listed and headquartered in the Netherlands. Smits is a certified public accountant with master’s degrees in business administration and tax law from the University of Amsterdam.
Cargill’s CFO position was vacated in November 2012 when Sergio Rial left the company to return to his native Brazil. Cargill President and Chief Operating Officer David MacLennan had added the duties of interim CFO to his responsibilities up until now.