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Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Promotes Luciano to President

By Jacob Bunge

Archer Daniels Midland Co. on Tuesday appointed Chief Operating Officer Juan Luciano to president, boosting the profile of a manager seen by some analysts as a potential chief executive of the commodities company.

Mr. Luciano, who will take on the new role immediately, joined the grain and oilseed trader and processor in 2011 from Dow Chemical Co., where he had run its performance products and systems division.

"He has energized [ADM] around improvements in costs, cash and capital, and has brought both discipline and vision to ADM's global strategy for profitable growth," ADM CEO and Chairman Patricia Woertz said in a statement.

Mr. Luciano, 52 years old, will retain his COO role and continue to report to Ms. Woertz, 60, who previously held the president title and has served as CEO since 2006 and chairman since 2007.

An ADM spokeswoman had no immediate comment beyond the company's statement.

Mr. Luciano, educated as an engineer in Argentina, assumes the added responsibility as ADM works to expand its operations overseas, especially in major grain-producing regions such as Eastern Europe and in Asia, where increased consumption of meat has fueled greater demand for animal feed.

ADM is contemplating its path forward in Asia after Australia's government in November blocked the company's 3 billion Australian dollar (US$2.7 billion) purchase of GrainCorp Ltd., a Sydney-based agribusiness.

ADM also has launched what Mr. Luciano described earlier this month as "aggressive" efforts to improve results in its grain-trading division, particularly in South America, after profit from the business fell about 35% to $84 million in the fourth quarter.

The company also aims to expand its ethanol business abroad. A sharp decline in corn prices in the past year has improved ethanol margins for ADM at a time when producers are competing to export more of the corn-based fuel additive. Lower grain prices in the U.S. are seen improving corn ethanol's prospects against sugar-based varieties.

ADM is based in Decatur, Ill., but said recently it plans to move its headquarters to Chicago.