Marubeni Trading Unit Gavilon Replaces CEO Amid Commodity Slump

  • Lewis Batchelder to succeed Jim Anderson; COO also departs
  • Marubeni bought U.S. grain trader in 2013 in largest ever deal

Gavilon LLC, the U.S.-based grain merchant owned by Marubeni Corp., named Lewis Batchelder as chief executive officer to replace Jim Anderson, the latest management shakeup at a major trading company amid a rout in commodities markets.

Batchelder will start at Omaha, Nebraska-based Gavilon on March 1, the company said Friday in a statement. Gavilon said separately in an e-mail that Anderson "stepped down," as did Chief Operating Officer John Neppl and Greg Konsor, vice president of its North American grains division. Chris Faust was promoted to replace Konsor as leader of the grains unit.

Marubeni acquired Gavilon in 2013 for $4.6 billion including debt, the largest takeover by the Japanese sogo shosha, or trading house, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Marubeni CEO Fumiya Kokubu said In January last year that Gavilon hadn’t been integrated into the Tokyo-based company’s grain-trading operations as expected. That same month, Marubeni announced it would write down about 50 billion yen ($440 million) of goodwill related to Gavilon.

A glut of everything from crude oil to iron ore and corn has weighed on commodity traders. Hong Kong-based Noble Group Ltd., which this week reported its first annual loss almost two decades, lost its CFO and head of metals last year. Other high-profile departures have been seen at Trafigura Pte Ltd. and Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. in the past year, while Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV reshuffled its management in December.

Long-Standing Relationship

Batchelder has 40 years of experience in the grains industry. He was previously senior vice president of agricultural services at Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the world’s largest corn processor, and was also chairman of Alfred C. Toepfer International, a German agricultural trading firm owned by Chicago-based ADM. He has a “long-standing relationship with Marubeni,” Gavilon said in its statement. Anderson became CEO in October 2014.

Telephone messages and e-mails left for Anderson weren’t immediately returned. A company spokesman declined to comment further on the management changes.

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