Bunge Ltd., the White Plains-based international agribusiness and food company, has named Gregory A. Heckman as acting CEO. Heckman, a board member for Bunge and experienced agribusiness executive, replaces Soren Schroder, who announced in December he would step down as company CEO. Bunge also stated in the announcement that adjusted earnings before interest and taxation in its agribusiness segment would be about $90 million to $100 million below the low end of previous expectations. The company has been hurt by the U.S.-China trade war, cutting its exports of soybeans to China. Earnings in Bunge’s sugar and bioenergy segment also would be about $60 million to $70 million short of expectations, the company said, citing low Brazilian ethanol prices and weather-reduced crops.
Bunge is part of what is often referred to as the ‘ABCDs’ of the global grain trade, representing its four largest companies. Cargill Inc. in Minnesota, Chicago-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. and the Dutch Louis Dreyfus Co. represent the other companies. Troubles at Bunge have left the company vulnerable to takeover attempts by both rival ADM and global commodities trader Glencore Plc since 2017, Reuters reported.
This fall, Bunge faced what has been described as pressure from activist investors D.E. Shaw and Continental Grain before adding four new board members. The company also launched a review committee to explore all options for the company, including selling itself.
Heckman, 56, joined the Bunge board in 2018. He has more than 30 years of experience in the agriculture, energy and food processing industries, including as CEO of commodity management firm The Gavilon Group and as a senior executive at ConAgra Foods. Heckman will stay in the role on an acting basis until the company’s CEO committee continues its search, Bunge said.