CARGILL announced Sept. 11 that its president and chief operating officer, David W. MacLennan, will succeed Gregory R. Page as chief executive officer of the company, effective Dec. 1.
Page will continue to serve as executive chairman of the nation's largest privately held company, where he will continue to lead the board of directors and represent Cargill in a variety of functions. He has served as chairman and CEO since 2007 and has worked for Cargill since 1974.
MacLennan, 54, will retain the title of president and will continue serving as a director of the company. He joined Cargill in 1991, has held a number of leadership positions and was named to his current post in 2011, three years after being named to the board.
"Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to work closely with David, especially in his roles as chief financial officer and COO, and I have been impressed with his leadership, his vision and the breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience," Page said. "This is a dynamic and diverse global company. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and have the highest confidence in David to deliver on that promise."
Cargill is the third agribusiness titan to announce an executive succession this year.
In February, Bunge announced the retirement of CEO Alberto Weisser, with Soren Schroder taking the reins of the processor June 1. Also, Louis Dreyfus Commodities CEO Serge Schoen resigned June 30 and was succeeded by Ciro Echesortu.
At Archer Daniels Midland, Patricia Woertz has led the Illinois-based grain handler and processor as CEO since 2006 and as chairman since 2007. The former accountant is in the middle of the company's largest acquisition in history: the $3.4 billion takeover of Australia's GrainCorp.
Though Page is still three years shy of Cargill's mandatory retirement age of 65, the outgoing CEO said the transition had been in the works at the board level for nearly two years to ensure continuity of leadership.
Cargill saw record earnings in five of the past six years of Page's leadership and reported earnings of $2.31 billion for the fiscal year that ended May 31, up from $1.17 billion the previous year, when profits had fallen 56% amid a maelstrom of economic and agricultural volatility.
MacLennan told Reuters that he does not foresee a major shift in the company's portfolio under his leadership, noting that 75% of Cargill's capital over the past five years has been invested outside the U.S.
"It will continue to be more outside of North America," he added. "The challenge is navigating a world that has a lot of volatility."