Noble Agri Ltd., a joint venture between Noble Group Ltd. and other investors including led by Cofco Corp., named Ernesto Leon-Gambetta head of coffee trading amid company efforts to revive its agricultural unit’s results.
Leon-Gambetta is rejoining Noble Agri in Stamford, Connecticut, where he was the head of soft commodities before leaving last year to become an adviser. His return was confirmed by Michelle Gathercole, a spokeswoman for Noble Group’s public relations representative. He replaces Dave Behrends, who held that position since 2010, according to the company’s website.
Noble Agri is involved in grains and oilseeds, sugar, coffee and cotton. Noble Group owns 49 percent of Noble Agri. Hong Kong-based Noble Group reported a 30 percent drop in first-quarter profit as Asia’s biggest commodity trader contended with waning demand and losses at its units and ventures. Its shares rose 0.7 percent Monday in Singapore, paring this year’s slump to 40 percent.
“We continue to be committed to the turnaround of the agriculture business and believe that we have the best partnerships to ensure success,” the company said in a May earnings statement. In April 2014, Chinese state-grains trader Cofco paid $1.5 billion for a 51 percent stake in Noble’s unprofitable agricultural division.
Cofco will form a global commodities trading firm, integrating Nidera BV, Noble Agri and parts of Cofco, Ton van der Laan, Nidera’s chief executive officer, said April 22.
Arabica-coffee prices fell 23 percent this year amid improved prospects for supplies out of Brazil, the world’s top producer. A Brazilian drought last year sent prices 50 percent higher, making it the best performing commodity among the 22 raw materials tracked by the Bloomberg Commodity Index.
Raw sugar futures tumbled 13 percent amid a supply glut, while cotton rose 8.7 percent this year after tumbling 29 percent in 2014. Reuters reported in January that Noble would exit its cocoa business.