* Timing seen as crucial ahead of possible IPO
* Serge Schoen oversaw tripling of turnover
* Ciro Echesortu to take over on July 1
(Recasts, adds quote from Chairwoman, adds details throughout)
By Emma Farge and Sybille de La Hamaide
GENEVA/PARIS, June 17 (Reuters) - The chief executive of
Louis Dreyfus Commodities has resigned, the company
said on Monday, ending an eight-year reign in which the
agribusiness giant more than tripled turnover and its profits
rose to a record last year.
Serge Schoen, the firm's chief executive since 2005, will
step down as of June 30 and be succeeded by Ciro Echesortu, who
is now chief operating officer and head trader, the group said.
It did not give a reason for Schoen's resignation. Both men
were born in the 1960s.
"Under Serge's and Ciro's leadership, our team has brought
the company to its leading position in agribusiness globally,"
Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, its chairwoman and majority owner, said
in a statement.
"The company is now well positioned to take advantage of
future opportunities and to continue its impressive trajectory
under Ciro's leadership, transitioning to a new era," she added.
Louis Dreyfus posted a record profit last year on the back
of strong global demand for food and high crop prices following
a severe U.S. drought.
Schoen's departure comes at a crucial time as the privately
owned company considers whether to follow rivals such as
Glencore in obtaining a public listing.
The outgoing CEO said earlier this year that Louis Dreyfus
might need to go public sometime in the next five years to
improve access to capital.
A source familiar with the firm's strategy said that
internal preparations for an IPO had been underway, although no
decision had been made about whether to pursue it and that it
was just one of several options available.
Louis Dreyfus - the "D" of the so-called ABCD majors that
along with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill dominate
the trade of agricultural products - said last year it aimed to
increase investments in the five years from 2012 by 40 percent
To help finance its investments, the traditionally secretive
company so far has sold non-core assets, issued its first bonds
and listed shares in a Brazilian unit.
Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, the widow of former head Robert
Louis-Dreyfus, has increased her stake since late last year via
Akira Trust to 65.1 percent from about 50 percent a few years
ago, according to another source familiar with the company.
Serge Schoen will take up an advisory role in Louis Dreyfus
Holding B.V., the parent company of Louis Dreyfus Commodities,
and will remain a supervisory board member of Louis Dreyfus
Commodities Holdings, the company said.
Echesortu has spent 28 years at the firm and has been COO
since 2009. He was previously CEO for its Southern Latin
American region and based in Buenos Aires.
"It could be a measured succession to the next generation
with heavy Latin America and trading experience coming through,"
a commodities consultant familiar with the company said.
For the company statement:
(With additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris, Anshuman
Daga and Rujun Shen in Singapore; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and