AFTER being passed over for the top job in favour of Mark Allison, David Goodfellow has resigned from embattled agribusiness company Elders.
Mr Goodfellow, Elders group general manager for the company's Australian network, was appointed by former managing director Malcolm Jackman in 2011 and initially was widely tipped to be his likely successor.
Mr Goodfellow had moved to Elders from heading up Macquarie Bank's Paraway Pastoral to run the farm service company's branch network.
His position in charge of the company's 220 Australian branches and related operations, is not expected to be filled in the near future while Elders continues to review its management team arrangements.
The management review, initiated when Mr Allison moved from being chairman to managing director on May 1, is looking at the leadership team's alignment with Elders' business strategy and business segmentation "to ensure it is best positioned to become a value generating business for all its stakeholders".
Mr Goodfellow declined to comment about his decision to leave, which follows a similarly abrupt departure by Mr Jackman late last year.
Last week, Elders reported a solid turnaround in six-monthly underlying profit to $6.7 million - up dramatically from a $23.7m loss in the same period to March 31 last year.
The company attributed much of its improved result to the performance of its branch network.
However, the rural services battler has still booked an after-tax statutory loss of $10.2m after including losses of $16.8m from various items such as operating results from forestry and the fair value adjustment of specific non-core assets now classified as held for sale.
Mr Allison, who was chairman of the ailing rural services business before becoming managing director, has previously said his unusual appointment move was "absolutely in line with appropriate governance" amid criticism from the Australian Shareholders' Association about the process.
Rumours had previously circulated for some months in regional Australia that Mr Allison, who has 30 years experience in the agricultural services sector, had put his name forward to shift from the chairman's job he took over in June last year.
A statement released by Elders about Mr Goodfellow's departure said: "David has made a number of significant contributions to Elders’ journey back to being a pure play agribusiness and in improving business performance".
"The Elders board and CEO thank David for his contribution and wish him well in his future professional and personal endeavours."
Elders first-half underlying earnings before interest and tax were $12.4m compared with a $16m loss 12 months ago and net debt has shrunk 25 per cent to $236.6m.
Term debt is down to $112.8m from $118.3m in March 2013.
Elders said overall sales revenue of $650.4m was down slightly ($6.3m) on figures for a year ago, but its traditional rural agency operations, which are back at the centre of the restructured and slimmed-down business, had made the greatest contribution to the underlying profit bounce.