Ex-Dreyfus CEO leaves board in latest shakeup

Paris | Reuters — Global agricultural trader Louis Dreyfus Co. announced board changes on Thursday in which former CEO Serge Schoen will leave the group, another step in a leadership shakeup under main shareholder Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.

Schoen oversaw rapid growth at the trading house as CEO between 2005 and 2013. Last year, Louis Dreyfus promoted former Asia head Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena, ending a protracted search for a permanent successor as chief executive.

In a statement announcing changes to its supervisory board, Louis Dreyfus did not mention Schoen but gave a board lineup in which he was absent.

“These planned changes are in line with the Group’s new strategic roadmap for the coming years (Vision 2025), which plans LDC’s response to the new, post-super cycle environment for the agribusiness industry, by placing increased emphasis on core business areas, re-focusing LDC’s geographical presence and operating model, and ensuring even stronger alignment between corporate governance and senior management,” the statement said.

In an emailed response to Reuters, Schoen said he had left of his “own accord” and called it a natural step after relinquishing last October the executive chairman role he had held since 2013.

A Louis Dreyfus spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the company statement.

After stepping down as CEO in mid-2013, Schoen was named executive chairman of the supervisory board. He became deputy chairman last October when Margarita Louis-Dreyfus took over as non-executive chairwoman.

As CEO, Schoen steered the group through a boom period for agricultural commodity markets, notching record net profit for the group of US$1 billion, as fast growing demand and lagging supply fuelled rising prices.

Like other commodity traders, Louis Dreyfus is now grappling with ample supply, lower prices and slower economic growth that have cut margins and prompted firms to refocus.

Dreyfus reported in March that net profit dropped 67 per cent to US$211 million last year, and confirmed it was seeking partners to help some of its businesses expand.

The board changes are effective immediately. Steven Wisch of investment firm El Dorado Partners and retailer Channel Control Merchants was also absent from the new line-up.

Margarita Louis-Dreyfus now heads a reduced board of five. The other board members are Michel Demare, chairman of Swiss seed and crop chemical group Syngenta, Jean-Rene Angeloglou, Mehdi El Glaoui and Joerg Wolle.

Schoen remains on the board of the Louis Dreyfus Foundation, focused on sustainable agricultural development and separate to the trading company, the foundation’s website showed.

Reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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