SÁO PAULO, Brazil - Martin Secco has been appointed the new CEO of Marfrig Global Foods SA, one of the largest global food companies. He will replace Sergio Rial, current CEO, on Feb. 16, 2015.
Rial led the company along with Marcos Antonio Molina dos Santos, president of the board of directors, over the past two-and-a-half years and implemented, along with his executive team, the “Focus to Win” strategy, which strongly improved integration and performance of the company, states a company press release.

Secco, has been with the company for more than eight years since the acquisition of the Refrigerator Tacuarembó in Uruguay, a business that belonged to his family and was also a shareholder. Secco has extensive experience in the meat industry, and has recently engineered a thorough turnaround process for the company --delivering positive results and reversing losses in the units that were under his command in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and state of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil.
"We are delighted to have as [our new] CEO one of the most experienced executives in the industry," said Marcos Molina, chairman. “ We are confident that he will add experience and ensure the continuation of the current strategy.”

Global Foods Marfrig is one of the largest global food companies based on poultry, beef, lamb and fish. Its diversified and flexible operating platform consists of productive, commercial and distribution units in 16 countries. Considered one of Brazil's most internationalized food companies, its products are sold in 110 countries.

But Bloomberg reported that the surprise, planned departure of Rial is triggering alarm among bondholders and raising doubts over management’s commitment to rein in debt. The company’s $775 million of notes due in 2020 tumbled by the most since April 2013 on Jan. 15, after the major hamburger supplier to McDonald’s Corp. said Rial planned to leave next month. In 2014, the bonds had the biggest returns among 100 junk-rated food companies on optimism Marfrig would generate more cash than it spends for the first time since 2007.

During Rial’s short, one-year tenure, he focused on cutting debt, selling assets and closing plants. Interest expenses plummeted and earned Marfrig upgrades on its debt ratings. With Rial’s exit, investors are concerned Marfrig won’t maintain his turnaround plan.