Louis Dreyfus adds venture capital unit

New unit's potential budget not yet discussed publicly

Paris | Reuters — Agricultural commodities trader Louis Dreyfus Co. has launched a venture capital program to invest in food and farming firms while also announcing a change of head for its innovation business.

“Over the coming months, we will invest in early-stage companies with the potential to transform the food and agriculture industries,” CEO Ian McIntosh said in a statement Wednesday.

The venture capital initiative, called LDC Innovations, will be part of LDC’s innovation and downstream division. The group said it was too early to comment on the potential budget of the unit.

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Dreyfus is the “D” of the so-called ‘ABCD’ quartet of global commodity traders that includes Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill.

Like its peers, it has been looking further down the food chain in response to declining profits in trading and shipping crops. The company last year made a deal to sell its grain elevators in Western Canada to Winnipeg agrifood firm Parrish and Heimbecker.

LDC is also considering bringing outside investors into the family-controlled group.

LDC Innovations will be led by Max Clegg, who has held business development and innovation roles at the group in North America since 2012.

The overall innovation and downstream business will be headed by Thomas Couteaudier, who will assume the role in addition to his existing responsibilities as head of South and Southeast Asia Region, LDC said.

The company later confirmed that its current innovation chief Kristen Eshak Weldon is to leave the group at the end of this month.

Weldon had joined LDC in January 2019 to take up the newly created innovation role after previously working at private equity firm Blackstone.

— Reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz and Sudip Kar-Gupta.

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