Louis Dreyfus agrees to sell African fertilizer business to Helios
Louis Dreyfus Company, one of the four ‘ABCD’ trading giants, is to sell its African fertilizer business to private equity firm Helios Investment Partners. Helios will acquire 100% of Fertilizers and Inputs Holding B.V.; a distributor of fertilizers, crop protection products, seeds and industrial chemicals in West Africa.
The fertilizer company has annual sales of around $300 million although the price of the acquisition has not been disclosed.
Dreyfus is part of the so-called 'ABCD' quartet of trading giants alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill that dominate global flows of agricultural commodities. Dreyfus had been looking for an outright buyer for its African fertilizer arm for over a year, as it seeks partners for its fertilizer concerns in other regions. The sell-off is set against an economic backdrop of lower profit margins crimped by large crop inventories, low prices and limited volatility, which has triggered the restructuring efforts, as Dreyfus focuses more on core activities like grains and oilseeds.
There is also speculation that Russian-born Margarita Louis-Dreyfus will seek a new shareholder for the 166-year-old firm she controls, as divestments continue.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.