September 11, 2019 / 8:44 PM / 9 days ago

Grain trader Gavilon cuts senior U.S. executives: sources

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - U.S. commodities trader Gavilon Group LLC, owned by Japan’s Marubeni Corp, has dismissed at least two senior executives, two people familiar with the matter said, amid a reshuffle that affected the firm’s Brazil unit this year.

The shakeup at Gavilon is the latest course correction in the region for Marubeni, one of several U.S. grain merchants struggling due to the trade war with China and historic flooding in Midwestern states.

Columbia Grain Trading Inc., another U.S.-based Marubeni unit, halted soybean sales to China in July because the trade war hurt profits. The suspension was believed to be aimed at cutting Marubeni’s risk exposure.

Kevin Lewis, chief financial officer at Gavilon in the United States, and Tasso Sideris, VP and general manager for global agriculture, were asked to leave the firm, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the news was not public.

The reasons for their departures were not immediately clear. Lewis and Sideris did not reply to requests for comment sent via LinkedIn.

Gavilon’s U.S. office and Marubeni’s office in Japan declined to comment on the shake-up.

One of the sources said Jeremy Koeppe, VP finance of global agriculture, also departed the company. The other source said other executives had left, but did not give details.

Koeppe did not respond to a request for comment on LinkedIn.

In May, Gavilon do Brasil dismissed three Brazil executives, including Fabrício Mazaia, the country manager, who reported to Tasso Sideris, according to the sources. Mazaia told Reuters on Wednesday his departure had nothing to do with the exit of the other executives. He declined to elaborate.

In April, Steven Zehr was named CEO of Gavilon Group, the firm’s third leader in just over three years.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Dan Grebler

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