Bunge Ltd. said this morning that CEO Soren Schroder, who joined the White Plains-based company in 2000, would be stepping down from his position. Bunge said in a statement that Schroder would remain in his job until a successor is named.
The 200-year-old international agribusiness and food company also announced that Kathleen Hyle was named the new chair of its board of directors. She has served on the board for the past six years.
The Financial Times reported the changes are a result of “activist shareholders Continental Grain company and hedge fund DE Shaw, which recently reached a settlement with Bunge that added four directors to the board and triggered a strategic review of the company.”
Bunge said in a statement that L. Patrick Lupo, who has been a board member since 2006 and its chairman since 2014, will remain a board member. Hyle will serve on the CEO search committee, along with board members Paul Fribourg, J. Erik Fyrwald and Mark Zenuk. Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta, a leading global agriculture company, was named to the board on Dec. 5.
Bunge buys, sells, stores and transports oilseeds and grains to serve customers worldwide. It processes oilseeds to make protein meal for animal feed and edible oil products for commercial customers and consumers; produces sugar and ethanol from sugarcane; mills wheat, corn and rice to make ingredients used by food companies; and sells fertilizer in South America.
“It has been an honor to serve as Bunge’s CEO,” Schroder said. “We are making solid progress, and it is the right time to turn over the leadership reins. The company has a strong legacy and an exciting future ahead.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that “the leadership moves could open the door to a possible sale of the company, which recently has been the subject of takeover approaches by Glencore PLC and ADM.”
According to Bunge, Schroder has “focused on creating a simpler, more efficient organization, establishing a series of global partnerships, building a first-class team and increasing Bunge’s focus on customers.”
New board chair Hyle, said, “The company is well positioned for long-term growth with the strong foundation that has been established under Soren’s leadership. We have a world-class global position in agribusiness and food and ingredients, and, with our excellent management team, we will continue to strengthen and evolve our business.”