January 6, 2017 / 9:42 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 2-China COFCO grains chief Matt Jansen leaves

2 Min Read

(Adds details, background in paragraphs 3, 6 and 9)

BEIJING, Jan 6 (Reuters) - China's COFCO Group said on Friday chief executive of its international grains business Matt Jansen has resigned, just 18 months after joining the state-owned agricultural trader as it pursued a massive global expansion.

The company has installed COFCO Vice President Jingtao Chi, who is known as Johnny, as CEO of both COFCO Agri Ltd and COFCO International Ltd to succeed Jansen, it said in a statement.

Chi, 53, has worked for COFCO for 14 years, it said. He has been general manager of COFCO Trading Ltd since December 2013 and vice president of Cofco Corp since 2010.

Jansen will serve as an adviser on an interim basis during the transition to new leadership, the company said.

Kevin Brassington, COFCO Agri's global head of grains and oilseeds, has also left, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The departure of the two executives comes after a tough year for global commodity traders, with bumper crops in major growing nations like the United States pressuring prices of corn and soybeans and intensifying competition among merchants.

Jansen became CEO of COFCO International in July and joined the company as head of agricultural trading in May 2015 from U.S. rival Archer Daniels Midland Co.

The company embarked on an aggressive global expansion over the past few years, investing over $3 billion to buy Noble Group's agribusiness as well as a large stake in Dutch grain trader Nidera.

Since first investing in Nidera in 2014, COFCO has suffered several setbacks, including a $150 million financial hole in its Latin American operations and $200 million in unauthorised trading losses on its biofuels desk. (Reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru and Dominique Patton in Beijing; writing by Josephine Mason in Beijing; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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