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By Colin Packham
SYDNEY, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Australia’s GrainCorp Ltd appointed an executive from U.S.-based agribusiness CHS as its new CEO on Tuesday, and said it did not expect former suitor Archer Daniel Midland Inc to return with a fresh bid in the near term.
GrainCorp said Mark Palmquist, who currently oversees CHS’s international grain businesses, will take the helm at Australia’s largest grain handler on Oct. 1.
The appointment comes amid speculation that agribusiness giant ADM will return with a renewed offer for GrainCorp after its A$2.8 billion ($2.6 billion) bid was rejected by Australia’s government last November on national interest grounds.
“ADM were in Sydney a few weeks ago and I would be very surprised if GrainCorp were not acquired by ADM one day,” said a Melbourne-based grain trader, who spoke on condition of not being named.
Don Taylor, Graincorp executive chairman and interim CEO, said Palmquist’s appointment was made without consulting ADM, which still owns nearly 20 percent of the Australian firm.
“ were aware of where the process was, but in terms of a name and the candidates that we interviewed, that was independent,” he told reporters on a conference call.
Taylor, who had supported ADM’s bid for the company, said he did not expect the U.S. firm to launch another bid for GrainCorp in the immediate future. He also didn’t expect a change in Australian government policy.
The takeover by ADM had been expected to go through, but the then newly elected conservative government sided with grain growers who opposed the sale of the country’s last major independent grain handler.
Former GrainCorp CEO Alison Watkins, who had planned to leave once ADM secured control of the company, resigned just days after the takeover was rejected to take over as managing director of bottler Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd.
Cooperative CHS said in a statement that Shirley Cunningham, a member of its strategic leadership team, would take over as chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy, following Palmquist’s departure. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Richard Pullin)