MINNEAPOLIS – Cargill announced on April 1 that Marcel Smits, a former Sara Lee executive, will be the company's new chief financial officer effective April 15.

Smits succeeds Sergio Rial who left Cargill to return to his native Brazil. In the interim, Greg Page, president and CEO had added the duties of interim CFO to his responsibilities.

“Marcel Smits is a terrific addition to the Cargill leadership team. His global experience in financial management and the food industry will be a tremendous asset to the company,” said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and CEO.

Smits became CFO of Sara Lee in 2009 and was appointed CEO in early 2011. During his tenure at Sara Lee, the company restructured its portfolio and split itself into two separate companies, Hillshire Brands, a North American food company that maintains “Sara Lee” as one of its product brands, and D.E Master Blenders 1753, an international coffee and tea business.

Smits, a native of the Netherlands, served in a variety of financial management positions for Unilever in Europe, Latin America and Asia throughout the mid-1980s and 1990s, lastly as senior vice president of finance for China. He subsequently served as CFO for Vendex KBB, a retail group, then for KPN, the Netherland's leading telecommunications service provider.

He is a certified public accountant with master’s degrees in business administration and tax law from the Univ. of Amsterdam.