November 28, 2017 / 10:19 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Shares in Denmark's Chr Hansen fall as CEO announces departure

(Adds comments from CEO, chairman and analyst)

By Teis Jensen

COPENHAGEN, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Shares in Danish ingredients maker Chr. Hansen fell on Tuesday after its Dutch chief executive announced he would be leaving the company after five years in the post.

The board is searching for a new CEO to lead the firm, whose new products include bacteria-based ingredients used to prevent moulds developing on foods such as yoghurts, meat and salad.

Shares in the firm fell as much as 5.5 percent after the announcement. By 1005 GMT, the stock was 3.5 percent lower.

“This creates some uncertainty,” analyst Morten Imsgard from Sydbank said. “He has been a very good CEO, he has lifted an already well run company to an even greater success, with some of the greatest growth prospects in Denmark.”

De Jong had been a driving force in the firm’s research into products that could prove valuable in the longer term in the food industry and beyond, he said.

“They’re very good at bacteria screening, and that technology and know-how could be used to find bacterias for disease control and prevention,” Imsgard said, adding that the firm was likely to seek a new CEO with a scientific background.

Outgoing CEO, Cees de Jong, 56, said he was leaving to spend more time with his family, but would stay on until a successor was found. He has one non-executive board position in the Netherlands and said he would seek other similar roles.

“We had hoped he would remain in Chr. Hansen for a few more years, although it was my suspicion we would not be able to keep him for many more years,” Chairman Ole Andersen told Reuters.

He did not give details on the search for a new CEO.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Jason Neely and Edmund Blair

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