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Wortel leaves The Greenery after irreconcilable disagreement with Supervisory Board

The Greenery hoped they would be in calmer water after the reorganization, but that is far from the truth now. Tuesday, director Ton Wortel suddenly resigned, a week after chairman Bert Jansen and member Mieke Bello had filed their resignation at The Greenery. Both members differed in opinion with the other members of the Supervisory Board regarding the manner in which the policy is implemented in The Greenery and it's supervision.

Avebe
The resignations do not appear to be separate. Chairman Bert Jansen was appointed chairman of The Greenery's Supervisory Board in June 2013. Since 2008 Bert Jansen has been the CEO of the potato starch company, Avebe. In September 2013 the same board appointed 're-organizer' Okko Koo as CEO on an interim basis. Okko Koo also has a past with Avebe. In October 2005 Koo was appointed chairman at Avebe on an interim basis. He remained as CEO until October 1st. He made quite an impression there, because under his leadership the potato starch group, which was not doing so well, started becoming healthier and more profitable. A worldwide reorganization in 2006 reduced the number of employees from 2,400 to 1,800. 

Ton Wortel was brought in by these directors after a long career in the retail sector at supermarkets, hardware stores and electronic work at Mediamarkt. From 2009 to 2012 Wortel lived and worked in China, after which he performed various internal jobs for Metro group, the parent company of Mediamarkt, "I then started talking to the Supervisory Board of The Greenery. In 2014 they were in the midst of a major reorganization. That piqued my interest and from talks with the members I had a good feeling about the sector. I thought, 'here's a place I can find my way.' Because, what is better than being able to add something to such a socially relevant sector?" This is what he said during an interview with the magazine 'Primeur'. In that same interview he announced his intention to divest the real estate portfolio, "We are not a real estate developer or landlord. We use the sale of these assets to get in balance." In the last few months several offices and distribution centers were closed or merged together. 

It seems that after Wortel's departure, the experienced board members, Jansen and Bello, no longer trusted that the company could be managed by the board. Jansen, in particular, had a great deal of experience in management positions in international, agricultural cooperatives. In a statement, The Greenery calls it an irreconcilable difference of opinion between him and the Supervisory Board regarding the manner in which policy is implemented in the company. Ton Wortel's successor faces a major challenge. The Greenery, which is owned by the growers cooperative Coforta, had more than 1 billion Euro in turnover last year. The trading company has been placed under guardianship by the bank due to the poor financial situation. ABN Amro and Rabobank placed it under special administration and it is still sitting there, according to the latest reports. 

Insiders lament Wortel's departure and call him a fresh, energetic director. For now, his duties have been taken over by Philip Limvers, who has been a member of The Greenery's Executive Board since February. 

The Greenery's response
Sabine Swaans, legal affairs manager and spokesperson for The Greenery, commented saying that both the two commissioners and Ton Wortel left because of a difference of opinion. She remains tight-lipped about the content of this disagreement. She says the departure is not sudden, "A difference of opinion does not occur in one day. An irreconcilable difference of opinion does ultimately lead to a departure."

Yesterday, employees and growers were informed, via internal media, about the departure of the director. When asked if the departure has led to serious unrest, Swaans says, "The departure of the CEO is not ideal of course, but the employees are very motivated and focused on the implementation of the agreed price. This strategy is widely supported by the company and management. Growers want the agreed upon volumes and prices to be reached, and we are definitely going to do that. It is now up to the Supervisory Board to search for a new director."

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