Agrifood giant Bunge has tapped an executive from Canada's biggest grain handler to be the U.S. company's new Canadian chief.
Karl Gerrand, who until now has been Viterra's chief operating officer for its global processing operations, will replace Rick Watson when the latter retires as Bunge's country manager in Canada at the end of March.
Watson -- who had worked for Canadian processor CanAmera Foods before Bunge bought its French parent company Cereol in 2002 -- became Bunge North America's country manager for Canada in 2008.
Watson, who during his time at Bunge also served a stint as chairman of the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, "has helped Canada's oilseed industry grow from a small domestic business to a global powerhouse," Bunge North America CEO Soren Schroder said in a release Friday.
Gerrand, who grew up on the farm at Virden, Man. and now works out of Viterra's Calgary office, was one of the co-founders of Can-Oat Milling in 1988. He came to Viterra when one of its heritage companies, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, bought full ownership of Can-Oat in 1998.
Gerrand served as president of Can-Oat from 2000 up until 2004, when Viterra named him as chief operating officer for processing.
In that role, Gerrand -- who also sits on the board of the North American Millers' Association -- is in charge of about 1,200 people working at Viterra's wheat and oat milling, malt, pasta, oilseed crushing and feed milling plants in Canada and worldwide.
Viterra, however, is itself in flux. Swiss commodity firm Glencore International formally took the reins at the Regina company last month upon completion of a $6.1 billion friendly takeover bid.
One of Viterra's Prairie grain handling rivals, Richardson International, last month picked up the antitrust approvals needed to buy Can-Oat and Viterra's U.S. milling operations, along with 19 Viterra country elevators and several port terminal assets, in a side deal with Glencore worth over $800 million.
Most recently, Fran Malecha -- another Viterra senior executive who'd been chosen just last month as head of Glencore's new North American agricultural business, based at Viterra's Regina offices -- quit Glencore abruptly to take a job in the U.S. as CEO of fertilizer processor Compass Minerals.
"With his track record of delivering strong results, Karl is the right choice to drive Bunge's growth plans for our Canadian operations," Schroder said in Friday's release.
New York-based Bunge's holdings in Canada so far include oilseed processing plants in all three Prairie provinces and at Hamilton, Ont., plus grain handling and port terminal operations in Quebec. The company's Canadian administrative office is set up at Oakville, Ont.
Glencore didn't immediately announce a replacement for Gerrand Friday. His job with Bunge formally takes effect March 31.
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