Exclusive: C.H. Robinson in advanced talks to name Barber as new CEO

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An aerial view of shipping containers and freight railway trains at the Union Pacific Los Angeles (UPLA) Intermodal Facility rail yard in Commerce, California, U.S., September 15, 2022. REUTERS/Bing Guan/File Photo

NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) - C. H. Robinson Worldwide (CHRW.O), the largest U.S. freight broker, is in advanced talks to name former United Parcel Service Inc (UPS) (UPS.N) chief operating officer Jim Barber as chief executive officer after the departure of Bob Biesterfeld, two sources familiar with the discussions said.

Barber, who spent nearly 35 years working at package delivery company UPS before retiring in early 2020, joined the C.H. Robinson board as a director late last year.

He would take the top job after Biesterfeld, who had been with the company for two dozen years and served as CEO for 3-1/2 years, was fired. A regulatory filing in early January described Biesterfeld's departure as an "involuntary termination by the company."

A spokesperson for the company said there is "no update" on the search, noting "the CEO role at C.H. Robinson is a great job with enormous potential. The Board is committed to conducting, and is underway on, an open and inclusive search to find our next CEO."

Barber could not be reached for comment. The sources spoke about the CEO selection process on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

The company's stock price moved higher, rising more than 3.5% at one point, and exchanged hands at $105.03, up 2.31% in late morning trading.

The company tapped Scott Anderson, who had been the company's board chair, as its interim CEO. Search firm Russell Reynolds was hired to find a permanent replacement and Anderson signaled he was not interested in the position, the filing said.

Roughly a year ago Ancora Advisors reached an agreement with the company, which is valued at $12 billion, for two board seats in return for not launching a board challenge. As part of the settlement the company agreed to form a strategic planning committee.

Last year Reuters reported that Danish transport and logistics company DSV A/S (DSV.CO) was interested in buying C.H. Robinson's business unit that specializes in arranging international cargo transport on behalf of shippers.

From the beginning, Barber has been seen as a strong CEO candidate, investors said and industry analysts wrote in notes after he was appointed to the board. He spent several years as President of UPS' international operations.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Mark Potter and Josie Kao

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