PGG Wrightson parent Agria's top pair off to 'other opportunities'

The top two executives of New York Stock Exchange-listed Agria Corp have given a day's notice of departure.

BUSINESSDESK: The top two executives of PGG Wrightson's New York Stock Exchange-listed parent Agria Corp have given a day's notice of departure to "pursue other opportunities".

Agria chief executive Xie Tao and chief financial officer John Layburn resigned on October 9, effective from today, according to a statement lodged with the New York Stock Exchange. The agricultural research firm has set up a selection committee to find their replacements.

"Agria has gone through a comprehensive transformation over the past few years as we expanded our focus globally, led by our successful investments in New Zealand," chairman Guanglin Lai says.

"We thank Xie Tao and John for their efforts and dedication during this period and wish them continued success as they pursue new opportunities."

A rejig of Wrightson's board, announced earlier this week, was a harbinger of the change, with Xie not standing for re-election on the New Zealand rural services firm's board.

Their departure comes the same day the agricultural research company reported a net loss of $US2.5 million in the year ended June 30 on sales of $US1.09 billion. Agria changed its balance date during the year, making it difficult to draw comparisons with the previous period.

Agria completed a $144 million partial takeover of Wrightson in a deal that brought on China's New Hope International and Ngai Tahu as minority shareholders in the holding company.

Wrightson is the major source of revenue for Agria, which it uses to run its international operations across China, New Zealand, Australia and South America.

Last week Wrightson won government backing for a $14.6 million research programme where the Crown will stump up half the funds for research into raising seed quality. The seeds business was seen as the main attraction for Agria's takeover.

Wrightson's shares fell 2.7% to 36 cents in trading today.

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