Ex-Viterra CEO to lead Dreyfus’ commodities business

Mayo Schmidt, shown here in Winnipeg in 2007, led Viterra until 2012. (Dave Bedard photo)

The CEO who stitched Viterra together from Canada’s Prairie pools has been named to lead Louis Dreyfus’ global commodities business.

Mayo Schmidt was announced Friday as the new CEO of Louis Dreyfus Commodities (LDC), the “D” of the four “ABCD” companies dominating the global grain business.

Schmidt takes the reins at Rotterdam-based Dreyfus effective Jan. 5. He replaces Claude Ehlinger, who returns to his post as LDC’s chief financial officer, having filled in as interim CEO since Ciro Echesortu stepped down from the post in April.

Schmidt came to the agrifood business through senior management at General Mills between 1982 and 1995, before being hired as president of ConAgra’s Canadian grain business. He later became an executive vice-president for U.S.-based ConAgra, before joining what was then Saskatchewan Wheat Pool as its CEO in 2000.

Schmidt oversaw Regina-based SaskPool’s financial restructuring from near-bankruptcy, shutting most of its smaller grain elevators and selling off the Pool’s non-core businesses. In 2007 he spearheaded SaskPool’s merger with Agricore United — itself a merger of United Grain Growers, Manitoba Pool Elevators and Alberta Pool — into Viterra, and became its new CEO.

Before leaving Viterra in late 2012, Schmidt steered the combined company through its sale to Swiss commodities trading giant Glencore, in which the Regina office became headquarters for Glencore’s North American ag products business.

Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, chair of LDC’s parent firm, Louis Dreyfus Holding, on Friday hailed Schmidt’s “broad and global experience in the food industry, combined with his leadership skills, entrepreneurial attitude, strong business ethics and team-oriented mindset.”

Louis-Dreyfus also described Schmidt’s hiring as “an important step in the transition project we launched in June 2013, to further reinforce our management structure and governance model.”

Serge Schoen, LDC’s executive chairman, said the company’s board “invested significant time and resources” seeking “someone with a strong track record of success, but also an advocate for our corporate values, with the ability to act as a role model and create lasting social impact.”

Dreyfus, which has operated since 1851, has commodity merchandising and ag processing activities on every continent and is active in over 100 countries. In North America, the company bills itself as one of the continent’s top exporters of wheat, soybeans, corn and cotton.

Dreyfus maintains a Canadian office in Calgary and operates 10 inland terminals — four in Saskatchewan, three in Alberta, two in Manitoba and one at Dawson Creek, B.C. — plus a major canola crushing plant at Yorkton, Sask.

The Yorkton plant has been shut for repairs since an explosion and fire late last month in its canola meal storage and loading area. — AGCanada.com Network



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