Olam International has announced that Niall FitzGerald has been appointed as the chair of the board of directors for Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) effective Sept 9.

OFI was created in early 2020 following the announcement of the re-organisation of Olam to unlock and maximise its long-term value. OFI intends to seek a primary listing on the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange, and a concurrent secondary listing in Singapore in 1H2022.

FitzGerald worked at Unilever for 37 years including 18 years as an executive board member, during which period he served as finance director, foods director and detergents director until his appointment as chair and CEO in 1996. He held the position of Unilever chair and CEO for eight years until 2004. 

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Apart from Unilever, FitzGerald has chaired a broad range of companies and public bodies including Reuters, Hakluyt, Brand Learning, British Museum, Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust, International Business Council and the Advertising Association. He has also served on several boards, including Bank of Ireland, Ericsson, Merck, Prudential Corp, the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, International Policy Council for Agriculture and Trade and was President of South Africa’s International Advisory Council.

He currently chairs The Leverhulme Trust and the Hakluyt International Advisory Council and is patron of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. 

“On behalf of the Olam Board, I am pleased to welcome Niall FitzGerald, a highly successful and distinguished international business leader to be the first Chair of the Board of OFI. Today’s announcement is an important step in our ongoing preparations for the concurrent listing and demerger of OFI. I am confident that Niall will build and lead an effective Board for OFI, which will provide stewardship for sustained profitable growth and value creation with best-in-class governance for all its stakeholders,” says Olam chairman Lim Ah Doo.

FitzGerald says he is delighted to join the business, which he believes has “a huge growth potential across the world”. “The track record in showing how commercial success, a passionate commitment to sustainability and positive social impact can integrate effectively, has a particular appeal. The opportunity to bring this business to the public markets and recruit a diverse and skilled board will also be a new challenge,” he adds. 

A Shekhar, CEO of OFI, says, “It will be a privilege to work with Niall and I am confident that his extensive business experience and the network that he has built over his stellar career will bring significant benefits to OFI. OFI has a great legacy and an exciting future ahead and Niall’s appointment comes at an important next phase of our evolution, in which his counsel and support will be hugely valuable for me and my management team.”

Shares in Olam closed 2 cents or 1.24% lower at $1.59 on Sept 8