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Cargill names insider as new CEO

Brian Sikes, Cargill’s chief operating officer, was named its next president and CEO. He will take the helm of the global protein and ingredients giant on Jan. 1.

Current Cargill CEO Dave MacLennen, who served in the role for nine years, will transition to executive chairman of Cargill’s board of directors. According to The Wall Street Journal, MacLennen is 63, two years shy of Cargill’s customary retirement age.

Sikes has been at Cargill for 31 years, and he became COO last year. Prior to that, he headed the company’s protein and salt business, which is its largest. In his time at Cargill, Sikes has held leadership roles in the U.S., Europe and Canada. He will be the tenth CEO in Cargill’s 157-year history. 

“As Cargill continues to navigate dynamic global markets, both operational excellence and a clearly articulated vision driven by purpose and values will define the company’s success, and there is no better person than Brian to lead Cargill,” MacLennan said in a press release. “He’s a person of action and results, with a relentless passion for serving our customers and our people.”

MacLennen also started at Cargill 31 years ago, and became CEO in 2013.

Under his tenure, the company grew in the meat and agriculture space with huge acquisitions, including the $4.5 billion purchase of Sanderson Farms with investment firm Continental Grain. Other major acquisitions the company made under MacLennen’s leadership were in the bioindustrial, aquaculture and animal nutrition spaces.

As executive chair of the board, MacLennen will work toward a smooth leadership transition and continue to serve as a strategic adviser to Sikes.

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