Corteva CEO James Collins retiring at end of year as company starts external search for successor

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James (Jim) C. Collins, Jr., CEO, will retire from Corteva, effective December 31, after more than 37 years with the company and its predecessor, DuPont.

Collins, 57,  agreed to continue in his role as CEO while an external search for his successor is underway.

Corteva, based near Wilmington, combined Dow, and DuPont agricultural businesses. Putting the  Dow and DuPont ag businesses together was the driving force behind the brief merger and subsequent spin-off of DowDuPont into Dow, DuPont, and Corteva.

“Over the past several years, Jim guided the creation and launch of Corteva as a leading, independent global agriculture company, and he will leave the company on a very strong footing,” said Greg Page, independent chairman of Corteva. “The board and I are grateful for everything Jim accomplished for our company, its employees and customers, and our shareholders. Through Jim’s contributions, the company is well-positioned to continue strong forward momentum looking ahead. We will begin the search for Jim’s successor immediately and appreciate his willingness to remain in place to assure a smooth transition.”

James Collins

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to work with such an outstanding team. We have established the foundation for an exceptional company built for sustainable growth as it serves its vital purpose. I am so proud of what we have accomplished together,”  Collins said.

Collins continued, “The work of successfully creating Corteva following the merger of Dow and DuPont, standing it up as an independent company, and leading it through arguably some of the most volatile periods in the history of agriculture has been both an honor and a great responsibility. After conversations with our Board, we agreed that with the company on solid ground, this is the opportune time to make a leadership change. I will continue to serve as CEO until the Board identifies a successor. The organization remains focused on execution, and we are on track to deliver on our financial commitments for the first half of 2021 and will provide further updates on the full-year outlook during the second-quarter earnings call. We have created a special culture at Corteva, backed up by sustainability goals to advance agriculture resiliency, and I am confident that while we will see healthy change, our commitment to our shareholders, our customers, and to a safer, healthier planet will endure for years to come.”

Before the formation of Corteva, Collins was previously Chief Operating Officer for the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. Before the DowDuPont merger, he was an Executive Vice President for DuPont responsible for the Agriculture segments, including DuPont Crop Protection and Pioneer.

Starting with the announcement of the DowDuPont merger, Collins led the integration of  DuPont and Dow agricultural businesses. During this period, initiatives included launching 14 new products, implementing a growth strategy, and cutting overhead costs.

DowDuPont was forced to shed a few lucrative businesses in dealing with antitrust-related issues here and overseas.

Collins currently serves on the board of directors for CropLife International and Longwood Gardens and is a Champion of the Crop Trust’s Food Forever Initiative. A supporter of youth education and leadership development, Collins also serves on the National 4‑H Council Board and University of Tennessee Lone Oaks Farm Advisory Council. He has also been awarded an honorary American FFA Degree for his efforts to promote agriculture education with youth in the United States.

Collins was not without his detractors. An activist investment group, at one point, sought his ouster. Corteva later reached an agreement with the group.

Corteva describes itself as a “pure-play” agribusiness company with more potential for long-term growth than DuPont or Dow. 

Under the spinoff, Corteva was saddled with DuPont’s pension plan. Moves, such as canceling a life insurance policy option, have drawn fire from retirees.

Overall, the spin-offs of Dow, DuPont, and Corteva remain a work in progress, with stock prices not seeing the gains that some anticipated.

DuPont CEO Edward Breen, who helped engineer one of the most complex merger deals in U.S. history, later returned to DuPont’s CEO position after disappointing financial results.

Collins is the second former  DuPonter to announce his retirement from a spinoff company.

Mark Vergnano is retiring as CEO of Chemours, a  Wilmington-based collection of former DuPont chemical and titanium businesses. The company quickly appointed the second in command to head the business.

 

 

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