Chief Executive Officer – Family owned agribusiness – Brazil

Scenario 

The prospects of the sugar and ethanol industry in Brazil were looking very positive. The previous crop was excellent, prices were good and the government was indicating strong support for investment in expansion of ethanol production. Given this scenario, a family business decided to build a new plant, using their own resources. In the following year, however, the company faced falling prices, crop failure and had to take on short-term debt. Given the situation, the family planned to hire the first external CEO to lead the company into its next phase. As an additional challenge the business was headquartered far from the major centers, in a in a small town in the state of São Paulo.

Solution 

Given the challenging scenario (succession of partners for the first time, high debts and the whole industry facing difficulties), it was necessary to find an executive who combined outstanding personal skills and technical competence with a sense of urgency. The most critical skills were the ability to mediate the relationship between different partners (all family members) combined with experience in agricultural and manufacturing operations and good relationship with banks and potential investors.

Page Executive identified a candidate with relevant experience as CEO in organisations with the same dynamics, but in different industries. Due to his track record, the executive had an excellent reputation and extensive experience reporting to boards with multiple partners and debt renegotiation. Additionally, he was born in a town near the company's headquarters and was motivated to move back. It was a good combination of opportunities for both sides.

Outcome 

The partners were in a rush to appoint the CEO. In only 15 days the best candidates were found and after a quick process the successful executive moved to the company. Upon arriving, he noticed that the debt levels ware even more challenging than expected. The debt renegotiation process was quite extensive but very successful. The new CEO also had the ability to attract a strategic partner. With this solution he was resolving the debt, contributed to the improvement of corporate governance and has made the succession process less difficult.