ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS — After a 17-month search and one aborted hire, Louis Dreyfus Commodities announced on Sept. 18 the appointment of internal candidate Gonzalo Ramírez Martiarena as the company’s chief executive officer (CEO), effective Oct. 1.
The search for a permanent CEO started in April 2014, and was believed to have ended at the end of November 2014 with the hiring of Mayo Schmidt, former Viterra CEO and president. However, Louis Dreyfus announced on Dec. 31, 2014, that the company and Schmidt “jointly decided not to proceed” and the CEO search resumed. The CEO search was led by the company’s supervisory board.
Ramírez Martiarena is currently head of the Asia region for Louis Dreyfus Commodities, a responsibility that he will retain in the interim. He joined the group in 2005, initially based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working for the oilseeds platform, and later in Paris, France, working for the freight platform. In 2007 he moved to Madrid to develop the distribution market for Louis Dreyfus Commodities Spain. The following year he returned to Buenos Aires to lead the group’s grains and oilseeds origination activities in South Latin America, and in parallel started the fertilizers and seeds division in Argentina. He subsequently served as chief operating officer for South & West Latin America, and in 2012, he was appointed head of that region, acting in parallel as interim senior head of regions for the group between 2013 and 2014. He moved to Singapore in 2015 in his most recent role as head of the Asia Region. Prior to joining the group, Ramírez Martiarena worked for 15 years at Nidera in Argentina.
“Gonzalo is a valued member of our senior management team, and stood out as a strong internal candidate during an extensive and rigorous search process led by the supervisory board, that considered both external and internal candidates,” said Margarita Louis-Dreyfus. “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. The supervisory board is confident that Gonzalo is 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. With his long experience and thorough knowledge of our operations, Claude Ehlinger will support Gonzalo and our management during the initial transition period. The supervisory board and I are very grateful to Claude for his steadfast support and great engagement as acting CEO.”
“I am honored by the trust that Margarita Louis-Dreyfus and the supervisory board have placed in me by selecting me as CEO,” said Ramírez Martiarena. “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, with the same integrity and commitment that have established Louis Dreyfus Commodities as a trusted name over our 164-year history.”
Along with the CEO announcement, Louis Dreyfus made several other management appointments. Margarita Louis Dreyfus, currently chairperson of Louis Dreyfus Holding, was appointed non-executive chairperson of the Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group Supervisory Board, effective Oct. 1.
Margarita Louis-Dreyfus has been tightening her grip on the company by purchasing more shares in Louis Dreyfus Holding BV from family members. The Akira trust now owns about 80% of Louis Dreyfus Holding, which controls about 85% of Louis Dreyfus Commodities.
In her supervisory board position, she succeeds Serge Schoen, who has held the executive chairmanship since September 2013. Schoen will serve as deputy chairman of the Louis Dreyfus Commodities Group Supervisory Board and join Louis Dreyfus Holding. The transition is part of the evolution of the group’s governance, as planned after Schoen stepped down from the CEO position in 2013 to assume the executive chairmanship of Louis Dreyfus Commodities until the appointment of a permanent successor as CEO of the group.
Claude Ehlinger, who was leading the company, will remain deputy CEO of Louis Dreyfus Commodities and non-executive chairman of the board of Biosev until May 31, 2016.
Sandrine Téran, currently global head of tax and group corporate secretary for Louis Dreyfus Commodities, has been appointed chief financial officer (CFO), effective Oct. 1.
Margarita Louis Dreyfus said in April 2014 that she is aligning management and governance to the standards of publicly traded companies in case of an IPO or sale of a shareholding. There aren’t any immediate plans for an offering or strategic partner, she told Bloomberg.
Louis Dreyfus is part of the so-called “ABCD” agricultural commodity companies that include Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge Ltd. and Cargill. According to its website, Louis Dreyfus accounts for about 10% of agricultural product trade flows.