AUSTRALIAN Agricultural Company’s chief operating officer, Troy Setter, will leave the company over the next two months to take up the same position at Consolidated Pastoral Company.
The announcement comes as something of a surprise, less than a month after AA Co appointed fellow middle-manager, Jason Strong, to replace David Farley as its chief executive officer and managing director.
Mr Setter himself was considered a strong candidate to fill the AA Co CEO’s role, and industry speculation will inevitably focus on whether the two appointments are connected.
Consolidated Pastoral Co is Australia’s second largest cattle enterprise after AA Co, and the largest in private hands. It operates a network of 19 cattle properties across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, running about 360,000 head of cattle.
In a statement issued today, CPC chief executive Keith Warren welcomed Mr Setter’s appointment, saying he had extensive management experience in agribusiness and had successfully led complex projects within the beef industry.
“Troy’s operational skill will be invaluable as the company develops into an operations-driven, market-led beef company,” Mr Warren said.
CPC was bought by UK funds investor Terra Firma from the estate of the late Kerry Packer and his partner, Ken Warriner in 2009. The company appointed Mr Warren, a former international restaurant operations and finance executive with Yum KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), as its chief executive officer last year. He replaced Mark Irwin, who left suddenly only 12 months after his 2011 appointment, and interim CEO, Terrra Firma’s Fergal Leamy, who acted as caretaker over the following 12 months.
It would appear that CPC has sought-out Mr Setter’s pastoral operations experience as a strong counterpoint to chief executive Keith Warren’s own background and skills-set.
Mr Setter’s 20 years of experience in agribusiness included the past four years at AA Co, where he executed a three-year strategic plan to restructure the company’s operations and diversify sales to new markets, invest in and divest assets, develop and implement a genetic improvement strategy and increase profitability and herd size.
He previously held management positions within Elders derivatives North Australian Cattle Co (live exports), and Killara feedlot, where he acted as manager. His career began at Twynam Agricultural Group.
In a CPC statement, Mr Setter said he was excited about joining CPC, a business with a “great reputation in the industry and significant potential.”
“It is a great time to be joining CPC where the business is well positioned and focused on taking advantage of increased global demand for beef. I look forward to joining and working with Keith and the team,” he said.
Terra Firma chairman Guy Hands said Troy’s background in agriculture made him ideally placed to drive ‘best-in-class’ operations at CPC as it entered its next phase of development.
“We look forward to working with Troy, Keith and the CPC team in continuing to grow the business,” Mr Hands said.
It's well known across industry that CPC has attrempted to headhunt several other key industry personnel for management positions recently. It remains unclear whether it was successful in that, but if so, it may point to future developments, perhaps in the area of acquisition.
Meanwhile, Troy Setter’s departure from AA Co will see the company adopt a leaner management profile, with a decision already reached not to seek a replacement.
Instead, there will be a re-allocation of the former COO’s responsibilities across the existing AA Co management team, managing director Jason Strong said.