SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The board of directors of Brazil’s BRF SA, the world’s leading poultry exporter, on Friday taped former trade minister Luiz Fernando Furlan to replace retail mogul Abilio Diniz as chairman, according to a securities filing.
The announcement, made after a two-day meeting finished late on Friday, is a major setback for Diniz who joined the firm in 2013 after the acquisition of a relevant stake by the investment company he leads, the Península Participações.
BRF board agreed to form an alternative list with indications for the chairmanship and other board members to be presented to shareholders in a general assembly on April 26, after major stakeholders such as pension funds Previ and Petros asked for the departure of Diniz and other changes to the board.
The company posted a 1 billion reais ($296.92 million) loss last year, as it dealt with fallout from the “Weak Flesh” food safety scandal in which Brazil food inspectors allegedly accepted bribes to skip food quality checks.
The scandal resulted in plant closures, export restrictions and an ensuing management shakeup at BRF. In November, BRF named a new chief executive officer, José Drummond, to lead a turnaround, replacing Pedro Faria, who was later temporarily arrested in the course of the investigation.
Diniz arrived at BRF after his family sold a large stake in retail chain Companhia Brasileira de Distribuição to French group Casino.
He is also a major shareholder at retail group Carrefour and is a member of the board in both Carrefour France and in its Brazilian unit.
Luiz Fernando Furlan is a shareholder of BRF. He is a former chairman of Sadia SA, the company bought by Perdigão SA when the two leading poultry and pork processors in Brazil merged in 2009 to form a global leader in animal protein production.
Furlan has also been a trade minister under Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s Presidency in Brazil, in 2003.
($1 = 3.3679 reais)
Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Michael Perry