New Bunge CEO looks to downsize company before growing again

Firm 'taking full advantage' of U.S./China spat while it lasts

(Dave Bedard photo)

New York | Reuters — The new chief executive of oilseed processor Bunge said Wednesday that the company needs to downsize in the short term and earn “the right to grow again,” by avoiding costly mistakes and operating with financial discipline.

“We’re going to let the numbers drive what should happen for us. First, we need to shrink,” CEO Greg Heckman said at a BMO investors conference in New York. “We need to get the platform performing, improve the returns and position ourselves for the right to grow again.”

Heckman, named CEO last month, overhauled Bunge’s global operations and named a new chief financial officer in the latest shake-up for the 200-year-old company hard hit by a years-long grain market downturn.

The company is reviewing its portfolio of assets, and will use any proceeds of sales with financial discipline, he said.

Heckman said while he prefers the stability that a resolution to the U.S.-China trade war would bring, the company can profit in present circumstances as well.

“As long as we’re taking full advantage, we don’t really care” about a resolution, he said.

— Reporting for Reuters by Rod Nickel in New York.

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