Louis Dreyfus changes CEO after one year

PARIS, France (Reuters) — Louis Dreyfus’s chief executive officer is stepping down in a surprise move after just one year.


The move forces the firm to seek a new CEO as it overhauls corporate structure to more closely resemble a public company.


Ciro Echesortu is to leave the position June 1, with chief financial officer Claude Ehlinger becoming interim CEO.


The company is concentrating on finding an external candidate, and an outside recruitment firm is advising the board, company sources said.


There is no fixed timetable for the appointment.


A new CEO from outside Louis Dreyfus would reinforce its shift toward a public-style corporate structure, which it sees as necessary to sustain its growth.


Dreyfus last month reported a sharp fall in annual profits, citing the effects on grain markets from a severe U.S. drought. However, it stuck to its plans to spend $4 billion over the next five years as it attempts to double in size.


The change in CEOs is part of a previously planned transition, the company said.


“One year ago, we agreed with Ciro Echesortu to begin a transition under his leadership, aiming to adapt our strategy and accelerate the group’s transformation, in order to reinforce our leading position in the industry,” said Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, chair of the company’s holding firm and its main shareholder.

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