Olam names former Unilever chief to chair food ingredients unit's board

Olam Food Ingredients was established by Olam in early 2020 following a reorganisation of the mainboard-listed group.
Olam Food Ingredients was established by Olam in early 2020 following a reorganisation of the mainboard-listed group.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Agri-food giant Olam International on Thursday named Unilever veteran Niall FitzGerald as the first chair of Olam Food Ingredients' (OFI) board of directors with effect from Thursday (Sept 9).

Formerly chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of Unilever, Mr FitzGerald's executive career at Unilever spanned 37 years up until his retirement in 2004. This included 18 years as an executive board member at the multinational consumer goods company, during which the Irishman served as finance director, foods director and detergents director up until his appointment as chair and CEO in 1996.

Mr FitzGerald is currently chair of Britain's grant-making organisation Leverhulme Trust as well as British advisory firm Hakluyt International Advisory Council. He is also a patron of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.

His previous chairmanships include Reuters, Brand Learning, British Museum, Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust, International Business Council and the Advertising Association. He has served on the boards of several organisations, including Bank of Ireland, Ericsson, Merck and Prudential Corp.

In a press statement, Olam's board chairman Lim Ah Doo said Mr FitzGerald's appointment comes as an important step in its ongoing preparations for the concurrent listing and demerger of its food and ingredients business unit, OFI.

"I am confident that Niall will build and lead an effective board for OFI, which will provide stewardship for sustained profitable growth and value creation with best-in-class governance for all its stakeholders," said Mr Lim.

Mr A. Shekhar, chief executive of OFI, said the new appointment comes at an important next phase of the company's evolution, in which Mr FitzGerald's counsel and support will be "hugely valuable" to him and his management team.

OFI was established by Olam in early 2020 following a reorganisation of the mainboard-listed group.

The unit includes Olam's cocoa, coffee, edible nuts, spices and dairy businesses. It is targeted for a primary listing on the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange, and a concurrent listing on the Singapore Exchange in the first half of 2022.

Olam shares were trading at $1.61, up two cents or 1.3 per cent, at 10.29am on Thursday.