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Corteva names Chuck Magro new CEO

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WILMINGTON – Corteva, the global agricultural chemical and seed company that spun out of DowDuPont, has named Chuck Magro, the former CEO of a major Canadian fertilizer company, as its next CEO, the company announced Thursday.

Magro, the former president and CEO of 3-year-old Nutrien, the world’s largest producer of potash and the third largest producer of nitrogen fertilizer, will take over the reins at Corteva on Nov. 1 while also joining the board. He succeeds James “Jim” Collins Jr., who ran the company since it spun out of the brief Dow-DuPont marriage in 2019.

Corteva announced in June that Collins would retire at the end of the year and that it was conducting an external search for his successor. He has spent 37 years with Corteva, headquartered near Wilmington, and its predecessors DuPont and DowDuPont.

“As a result of Jim’s efforts and clear vision, Corteva has the culture, capabilities, and strategy in place to capitalize on its unique value creation opportunity moving forward. We are especially grateful that he will work with Chuck to help assure a smooth transition,” Greg Page, the company’s independent chairman, said in a statement.

Collins’ departure comes after a tumultuous time for the company and its chief executive, however, as he was targeted by withering criticism from the leading activist investment firm Starboard Value LP earlier this year. Calling Collins’ performance in creating value for shareholders “incredibly disappointing,” Starboard reportedly identified a worthy replacement to the company.

Corteva’s board backed the embattled CEO though, defending his performance and steeling itself for a looming proxy fight with Starboard. By March though, and with a surprisingly good fourth quarter earnings report in tow, Starboard dropped its calls to replace Collins in an agreement that also secured three board seats for its selected appointees.

In Magro, Corteva is getting a chief executive with substantial experience in the industry, running a company that holds a market capitalization nearly $18 billion larger than its own. He served at the helm of Nutrien from when it was formed in 2018 with the merger of Agrium and PotashCorp until April, when he resigned – likely as negotiations with Corteva were heating up. He was CEO at Agrium for four years before the 2018 merger.

Magro held a variety of other senior roles at Agrium before becoming CEO, such as chief operating officer, chief risk officer, executive vice president of corporate development, and vice president of manufacturing. He joined Agrium in 2009 following a career with NOVA Chemicals.

“Chuck has an extensive, proven track record driving profitable growth through innovation and execution in the agriculture industry. During nearly a decade of strong leadership at Nutrien and its predecessor Agrium, Chuck led the creation and integration of the world’s largest crop inputs, services, and solutions company and established a culture with a clear commitment to operational excellence and advancing sustainable agriculture solutions,” Page said in a statement. “Our board is confident that he is the right leader to carry our strong momentum forward and create significant near- and long-term shareholder value.”

Magro said that Corteva “has established itself as the premier global agricultural technology company” and he is “excited to build on the momentum” of the company’s first years.

“With an unparalleled tradition of innovation, exceptionally strong customer relationships, and sustainability at the core of its business, we have an incredible opportunity to accelerate Corteva’s growth and value creation. Corteva is ideally equipped to advance the transformation of agriculture, helping farmers become more productive and sustainable and enabling us to feed a growing population while finding new ways to protect the planet. I can’t wait to get started,” he said in a statement.

Investors were seemingly pleased with Magro’s selection and Corteva’s recent solid third quarter earnings, pushing share prices up 2% in early trading Thursday.

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