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Page, 62, has been with Cargill since 1974, and his CEO stint featured mostly good times for the firm. Five of Cargill’s six most profitable years — in terms of sheer volume of earnings — came during Page’s stewardship. Company revenue grew from $87 billion to $137 billion from 2007 through 2013.
“I would like to think we made progress across a host of initiatives,” Page said in an interview after the change was announced Wednesday. “We really set out to broaden the company, to globalize the company.”
During his tenure, Page said, 75 percent of Cargill’s capital deployment has been outside of the United States, with major investments in such large and growing countries as China, India, Russia and Brazil. “We’ve moved the center of Cargill closer to to the center of the world’s economy,” he said.
Page’s tenure has been marked by some key acquisitions, with the $2.2 billion buyout of Dutch animal feed provider Provimi in 2011 as the biggest. But he also found himself steering Cargill through one of its worst years in a decade in fiscal 2012.
Cargill posted its lowest annual profit that year since 2003, as volatile markets hurt its trading operations while the company’s sugar, cotton and U.S. beef business also suffered. Cargill even announced a rare layoff of about 2,000 people or 1.5 percent of its global workforce, including fewer than 250 in Minnesota.
Currently, Cargill employs about 5,900 in Minnesota, mostly in professional positions in the Twin Cities.
Page is nearing Cargill’s mandated retirement age of 65. As executive chairman, he will chair the company’s board and continue to be a public face for Cargill, notably with policymakers.
Cargill also said Wednesday that Emery N. Koenig, its chief risk officer, had been appointed a vice chairman, a position that reports to the CEO. Paul Conway will continue to serve as vice chairman.
Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003