March 13, 2019 / 12:50 PM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Tereos makes changes at top as it faces EU sugar market shake-up

(Adds details, background)

PARIS, March 13 (Reuters) - French sugar group Tereos, which is forecasting falling profit this year due to an industry-wide slump, said on Wednesday it had reshuffled its management team, including the hiring of a new chief financial officer.

A surge in output after the European Union abolished production quotas in 2017 and a 40 percent slump in prices since early 2017 in an oversupplied world market have hit profits at many European firms.

"The liberalisation of the European sugar industry, the rapid development of new technologies in agriculture and industry, the new demands of consumers for health and nutrition, naturalness and sustainability will have a structural impact," the farmer-owned cooperative said in a statement.

"In this context, Tereos strengthens its Executive Committee to accelerate its transformation plan and continue its adaptation to these changes," it added.

Tereos named Stephanie Billet as its new CFO, starting on June 1, to replace Olivier Casanova who is leaving.

Billet was previously working at French cement maker Lafarge and been involved in the merger with Swiss rival Holcim.

Tereos also said it had hired Philippe Huet to become head of trade, marketing activities and head of its sugar and ethanol trading branch Tereos Commodities, replacing Alexandre Luneau.

Huet was previously Executive Vice-President for Europe at Cofco International, the overseas trading arm of Chinese food group Cofco, and spent more than 20 years at U.S. grain trader Cargill.

Cofco International said separately that Huet, who was in charge of the integration of the European activities of trading houses Nidera and Noble Agri, would not be replaced because the process was completed.

Tereos said Luneau will remain to focus on market and product strategy ahead of a planned capital increase.

In December, Tereos - which last season became the world's second largest sugar maker - plunged to a first-half loss of almost 100 million euros ($113 million) and said it expected to be in the red across its full financial year for the second year running.

The debt-laden group also faces the repayment of a bond next year although it said last month it had secured a loan for 250 million euros ($282 million) that allowed it to repay half the amount a year in advance.

The group's poor results have prompted an internal crisis at the cooperative lasting nearly a year, with dissidents accusing Tereos of hiding financial difficulties, something the group has always denied.

Tereos unveiled plans last summer to open its business to investors as it seeks to expand, a move it has since said could happen in around 2 to 3 years. ($1 = 0.8857 euros) (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz, Editing by Alexander Smith)

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