Executives resign from PGW stakeholder

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 13/10/2012

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Two key executives working for the controlling Chinese shareholder of PGG Wrightson have suddenly resigned.

Agria Corporation, the small entrepreneurial Chinese company that owns 50.2 per cent of PGW, yesterday reported that two managers, chief executive Xie Tao and chief financial officer John Layburn, had resigned.

The Agria annual report filed yesterday said that on Tuesday the Agria board accepted the resignations, effective from the next day. The two had "expressed their wishes to pursue other opportunities".

PGW shares fell 1 cent, or 2.7 per cent, to 35c yesterday on the NZX.

The Agria statement to the New York Stock Exchange, where its shares are listed, said the company had organised a selection committee and a transition committee.

Agria chairman Guanglin (Alan) Lai said the selection committee would work with a global executive search firm for suitable replacements.

The transition committee would oversee the company's business in the meantime. Agria financial controller Jerry Mao would manage the firm's financial matters.

Agria has a seeds business in China, but its biggest investment is its PGW stake, which it raised to just over 50 per cent in April last year.

Agria also posted a US$2.5 million (NZ$3m) loss yesterday for the year to June 30 from revenues of US$1.1 billion. That compares with a US$9.25m loss in the year to December 31, 2010.

PGW was included in the Agria June 2012 result. Lai said Agria's seeds business in China achieved 82 per cent revenue growth over the year before. That was led by the company starting to sell field corn seeds.

Forsyth Barr analyst John Cairns said he did not know if there were any ramifications for PGW in the loss of key managers at Agria.

Asked whether Agria was a stable shareholder in PGW, Cairns said PGW had not been a particularly good investment for Agria since it had been a shareholder.

"I guess they would have liked to have seen some faster turnaround in terms of the performance of the business."

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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