Elders seeks younger blood

26 Jul, 2007 07:00 PM
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THE hunt is on for a new chief to lead Australian agribusiness giant Elders after the shock departure of managing director Greg Hunt.

Mr Hunt has guided Elders¹ almost unprecedented growth while at the helm of the company for the past five years.

He pulled the company through some of the worst drought conditions the nation has experienced, also during a time when Elders Rural Bank was making a significant footprint in the rural finances sector.

Following Mr Hunt¹s departure last week, Elders client services general manager Paul Barber tended his resignation this week.

Farm Weekly understands that Mr Barber, who took leave from the company late last year for family reasons, was a close supporter of Mr Hunt.

Elders strategy and development general manager John McKillop also left his post shortly before Mr Hunt¹s departure.

Even the company¹s rapidly expanding Asian business sector has suffered a blow, when its general manager Nick Hunt, the former managing director¹s brother, was made redundant this month.

The exodus of four of Elders¹ senior managers in four weeks follows on from former wool general manager Steven Read parting ways with the company in June last year.

The reasons behind the staff leaving have not been clear cut, but in Mr Hunt¹s case, Elders parent company Futuris chief executive Les Wozniczka has alluded to the media that the decision was not necessarily Mr Hunt¹s.

Mr Wozniczka told media it was time for the company to make generational changes, but denied the company was in a senior management crisis.

Futuris¹ overt tactics in expanding its stakes in rural, financial and telecommunications ventures around the nation have been touted as one reason for tension between Mr Wozniczka and the company heads.

Mr Wozniczka said the onset of a good season throughout most of Australia provided an opportunity to bring new blood to the company.

He said the company was on track to post a record profit and a generational change was the right move for the company in the long term.

Three senior staff positions in Elders¹ WA head office have also been vacated and reassigned in the last 12 months.

While the positions of state manager, merchandise manager and insurance manager did not come under a cloud of discordant circumstances, the positions were filled by notably younger emplo-yees, including one from outside the company.

Elders¹ WA office would not elaborate on whether the senior positions filled in WA were part of Mr Wozniczka¹s plans for a generational shift.

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