BUENOS AIRES/LONDON (Reuters) - Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM.N) is restructuring its operations in Argentina in a move that will include job losses as part of a wider shake-up at the U.S. agribusiness group, three sources familiar with the plans said this week.
Chicago-based ADM is grappling with volatile global grain markets and has already exited energy trading and shed key personnel in recent months. It said on Wednesday it planned to close its South African trading operations.
In the latest development, ADM late last month shuttered its Toepfer grains trading unit, which had been based outside Buenos Aires, according to three industry sources familiar with the situation.
“There was some overlapping of functions between ADM and Toepfer. Redundant activities were cut,” said a Buenos Aires- based industry source with direct knowledge of the situation.
A photograph taken in late March of Toepfer’s former trading room in the suburb of Vicente Lopez and seen by Reuters showed stacks of cardboard filing boxed piled haphazardly among large ledger books strewn on the floor.
ADM first took an 80 percent stake in German trading house Alfred C. Toepfer International in 2002 and bought the rest of the company in 2014.
Toepfer Argentina, the largest surviving portion of the company, had about 85 trading and administrative staff in 2014. That number steadily fell until March, when a final 15 positions were eliminated. The 25 staff members who remained were transferred to a new ADM office in Buenos Aires, the sources said.
“ADM is streamlining its operations,” the source said.
The revamp hits at a time of increased competition from Chinese trading house COFCO Group, which has begun an aggressive expansion into international grains trading.
ADM’s public affairs office in the United States declined to comment.
In February, ADM reported a 41 percent drop in fourth-quarter net earnings to $424 million.
Gains in its agricultural services segment were blunted by more losses by its global trading desk.
The company in Argentina will be called ADM, while three grains elevators along the Parana River and in Bahia Blanca on the Atlantic coast will keep the Toepfer name. There are about 100 direct and indirect employees working at each of the three elevators. They are to stay on the job and continue exporting ADM and other products, sources said.
ADM established an office in Argentina in 1999 and has grown to be a major a major exporter of corn, sorghum and soybeans from the country, ADM’s website said.
Editing by Christian Plumb and Dan Grebler