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Mayo Schmidt steps down as Nutrien CEO, Ken Seitz named interim CEO

SASKATOON — The head of fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. has stepped down after less than nine months on the job.

SASKATOON — The head of fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. has stepped down after less than nine months on the job.

Saskatoon-headquartered Nutrien said in a news release Tuesday that Mayo Schmidt has stepped down as president and chief executive and also resigned from the company's board of directors.

In an email, Nutrien spokeswoman Megan Fielding said the company cannot comment on the reason behind Schmidt's departure, as "there are legal constraints on what we can say." 

"Beyond that, Nutrien doesn’t comment on individual matters pertaining to personnel changes," Fielding said, though she added the CEO change will not impact the strategic direction of the company.

Ken Seitz, executive vice-president and CEO of Nutrien's potash business, has been named interim chief executive. Seitz, who joined Nutrien in 2019, is also a former CEO of Canpotex, one of the world's largest suppliers of potash.

Schmidt was named CEO at Nutrien in April 2021, replacing outgoing chief executive Chuck Magro.

Schmidt joined the company's board in 2012 and served as chair from May 2019 until he was appointed CEO.

Schmidt's departure comes at a time when Nutrien is doing well against a backdrop of high crop prices and strong global fertilizer demand.

In November, the company — which reports in U.S. dollars — reported record adjusted earnings of US$4.7 billion and free cash flow of $2.8 billion in the first nine months of 2021.

Nutrien also raised its full-year 2021 earnings guidance to $6.9 to $7.1 billion, or $5.85 to $6.10 per share. The company said it expected strong demand for crop inputs and tight global fertilizer supply and demand fundamentals to carry into 2022.

“Nutrien has delivered exceptional results in 2021 and is well positioned to continue this strong momentum into 2022,” said Russ Girling, chair of the Nutrien board of directors, in a news release. 

“Nutrien has a talented and deep executive team, and we are confident that Ken Seitz and this team will continue to build on the organization’s record financial and operating performance.”

Girling thanked Schmidt for his service and wished him the best in his next endeavour.

Girling said the board will begin a global search for a new CEO that will consider internal and external candidates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:NTR)

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press