Spring wheat grows in a field before harvest near Brunkild, Manitoba.
Glencore Plc’s global agriculture unit will rebrand its business by changing its name to Viterra later this year.
The unit will adopt the name of the company that the world’s biggest commodity trader
bought in 2012, according to a
statement Wednesday. The move comes four years after Glencore
sold almost half of its agribusiness to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and British Columbia Investment Management Corp.
The agriculture unit has been in the process of separating from the parent company, setting up its own legal, technology and financial systems, a company spokeswoman said. The unit’s relationship with Glencore, which currently owns 49.99% of the agribusiness, remains intact, she said.
“A few years ago, three years ago in fact, we started our separation from Glencore,” David Mattiske, who became chief executive officer of the unit last year, said in a video shared with employees and seen by . The company “is ready for our next transition, and at that point we will be changing our name.”
The Viterra deal gave Glencore grain assets in Canada and Australia. The agriculture unit has long been on the hunt for U.S. grain assets to
expand its business and break the dominance of the biggest merchants. No major deal has been concluded.
“Seems like they may be preparing for a divestiture,” said Seth Goldstein, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago. “Even if they don’t spin off or sell for a number of years, separating it from the Glencore name would be the first step in case they want to divest in the future.”
Canada’s CPP owns 39.99% of the agriculture unit, while BCI holds 9.99% and an employees trust 0.03%, the spokeswoman said.
The choice to use the name Viterra “puts us ahead of the game” when compared with starting a new brand, Mattiske said in the video.
“We are planning for a smooth transition to the new brand over the coming months, while for employees and customers, it’s business as usual,” he said in the statement.
Glencore’s former agriculture CEO, Chris Mahoney,
stepped down in 2019 to retire after 17 years in the role. The unit employs about 16,000 people with operations in more than 35 countries, and owns assets including storage and processing facilities and port terminals.
Physical crop traders from Louis Dreyfus Co. to Cofco International Ltd. have struggled to boost profit in recent years amid bumper crops and a lack of price volatility.
— With assistance by Thomas Biesheuvel
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