Archer Daniels Midland picks Chicago for new headquarters

Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:41am EST

* Location of tech center still to be decided

* Most employees will stay in Decatur, Illinois

* Fails to win tax incentives from Illinois lawmakers

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Archer Daniels Midland Co will move its headquarters to Chicago after 44 years in the central Illinois city of Decatur, the agribusiness company said on Wednesday.

ADM, one of the world's top agricultural trading houses, in September said it wanted to transfer top executives to a new global headquarters that had better access to transportation and was more attractive to employees.

Chicago was seen as the frontrunner from the start, and ADM in October said it wanted to keep its headquarters in Illinois.

The establishment of a more centrally located headquarters matches ADM's plans to focus on global expansion. Australia last month rejected a bid by the company to acquire grain handler GrainCorp Ltd in a deal that would have increased ADM's access to markets in Asia and the Middle East.

"While we considered other global hubs, Chicago emerged as the best location to provide efficient access to global markets while maintaining our close connections with U.S. farmers, customers and operations," ADM Chief Executive Patricia Woertz said in a statement.

ADM plans to transfer about 50 to 75 employees to the new office, instead of the 100 employees it had initially proposed, after failing to win tax incentives from Illinois lawmakers, according to the statement.

The location for a technology center that the company had planned to open on the site of the headquarters is still being determined, ADM said. The technology center is expected to create about 100 new jobs over several years.

"One of the options the company considered was a comprehensive plan that would have established both a larger global headquarters and the information technology center in one location and included state government support," ADM said. "That plan could not be realized within ADM's time frame."

The Chicago headquarters will open in the spring or early summer of 2014, spokeswoman Victoria Podesta said. The company is not considering the Chicago Board of Trade building, where futures contracts for crops that ADM handles are traded, to house the office, she said.

For the technology center, ADM said it was considering locations in several states and expects to make a decision by the middle of next year.

About 4,400 employees are expected to continue working in Decatur, which will become ADM's North American headquarters. The company said it does not plan any layoffs in connection with the move to Chicago.