Lazard hires ex-Bunge CEO as senior food & agri advisor

Lazard, the US financial advisory and asset management firm, has hired Alberto Weisser as senior advisor for global agribusiness and related sectors in its financial advisory department.

Lazard, the financial advisory and asset management firm, has appointed Alberto Weisser as senior advisor for global agribusiness and related sectors in its financial advisory department. He will be based in Chicago in this new role for the company.

Weisser will provide strategic advice to Lazard clients and work closely with senior management in financial advisory. This include mergers and acquisitions and capital markets advisory, and is expected to involve some private equity deals, Agri Investor learned.

Former chairman and chief executive of Bunge, a global agribusiness and food company, Weisser has a good track record in the M&A field. During his 14 years with Bunge, Weisser oversaw 41 acquisitions and led the company through its successful transformation into a publicly-traded company, according to the press release. Weisser retired as Bunge’s executive chairman at the end of 2013, and was succeeded by Patrick Lupo.

Weisser’s new role at the company is to tackle challenges in the agriculture, commodities and food sectors, according to George Bilicic, vice-chairman of investment banking for Lazard who also heads Lazard’s Midwest investment banking business.

Alberto Weisser
Alberto Weisser

“As the world seeks more efficient and sustainable means of feeding a growing population, the $7.6 trillion agriculture and food industry faces transformative change, and the US Midwest is central to the global industry,” Bilicic said in a statement.

The company had $197 billion in assets under management at the end of 2014, a 5 percent increase from 2013, and record asset management operating revenues of $1.1 billion. M&A and other advisory operating revenue soared 31 percent to $1 billion in 2014.

Lazard has advised Dole, the world’s largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables, on the $1.6 billion sale of the company to David Murdock in 2013. Dole leases some of its land from Gladstone Land, the listed REIT.

Lazard has also advised various food transactions and served as the adviser to the American food company Pilgrim’s Pride in its sale to Brazil food giant JBS for $2.8 billion in 2009. More recently it handled Burger King’s $11.9 billion combination with Tim Hortons, a Canadian multinational restaurants known for its coffee and doughnuts, at the end of last year.

Outside the food and agri sector, Lazard also advised on Google’s $2.9 billion sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo and AT&T’s $67.1 billion acquisition of DIRECTV.