Xavier de Carniere is a dynamic and highly regarded plantations executive with substantial international business experience. Prior to joining Feronia, Mr. de Carniere was CFO of Siat Group, a major agro-industrial business with rubber and oil palm, cattle ranches and processing and downstream operations in six countries across Africa and Asia. In this role, Mr. de Carniere gained extensive knowledge of the palm oil industry and demonstrated a track record of delivering results, including the Group’s capital restructuring and a number of project financings. Mr. de Carniere also has experience in the African FMCG sector, having previously been Sales & Marketing Director for Promasidor, a manufacturer and distributor of quality food products. With responsibility for Ghana and Burkina Faso, he played a key role in developing a number of brands into market leaders. Mr. de Carniere is multilingual and has a Masters degree in Business and Finance from the ICHEC Management School in Brussels.
Mr. Xavier de Carniere
Chief Executive Officer
David Steel is a Chartered Accountant with extensive international experience gained from senior finance roles in both multinational and SME organisations. Prior to joining Feronia, Mr. Steel was Director of Finance for Misys plc, a multinational technology business supplying software to the global financial services sector, where he managed a global finance team of 70+ people located in 11 countries. As well as managing the global finance function, Mr. Steel also played an active operational role and managed the integration of a £365m multinational acquisition. Mr. Steel’s previous roles include Group Financial Controller for Fuller, Smith & Turner plc, a UK listed brewer and pub company, where he gained considerable capital market experience and Inchcape plc, a leading global premium automotive group, where he was head of Financial Planning and Analysis and Financial Systems.
Mr. David Steel
Chief Financial Officer
A well respected and highly experienced agriculturalist, Raymond Batanga joined Unilever Plc in the DRC over 35 years ago as a management trainee. During his rise through the organisation, Raymond gained extensive experience across all operational and administrative functions which cumulated in him becoming Director of Operations for four agro-industrial units covering 18,000ha of oil palm, 3,400ha of rubber, 1,000ha of cocoa and coffee, three palm mills and a rubber factory and responsibility for managing a workforce of 6,000 people. With the advent of civil conflict in the DRC in 1996, Raymond played a central role in ensuring the continuation of operations and the welfare of staff, often facing considerable personal risk. The respect and loyalty he gained amongst the workforce and management during this period has proven invaluable during the rehabilitation of Feronia’s palm oil business and in enabling Raymond and his team to launch the start-up of Feronia’s arable farming operation. As Chief Operating Officer of Feronia, Raymond is responsible for all operations in the DRC and represents the Company as Country lead and as a figure head in respect of all DRC matters; areas where his strong leadership, commercial and strategic understanding, and widespread respect are essential. Raymond has a Degree in Engineering in General Agronomy (Distinction) from the Universite Nationale du Zaire and during his time with Unilever was part of its ongoing management training programme and numerous training courses in both the DRC and overseas.
Mr. Raymond Batanga
Chief Operating Officer DRC
Dr. Zephirin Luyindula is a highly regarded agronomist with considerable experienced in both oil palm research and operations. Having spent the early part of his career lecturing on agronomy and advising on smallholder agriculture in the DRC, Dr. Luyindula joined PHC in 1990 and was responsible for research programmes covering palm oil, cocoa and rubber, as well as overseeing the Company’s seed breeding programme at the Company’s Yaligimba Research Station. In 2008, Dr. Luyindula became Assistant Operations Director of the Yaligimba plantation, with responsibility for the plantation’s 7,700 hectares of oil palm and 1,500 employees and in 2012 became Head of Operations of PHC in the DRC. In November 2014 he became Managing Director of PHC with overall responsibility for production and management of the Company’s three plantations. Dr. Luyindula has a degree in Agronomical Engineering from the Institut Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques in the DRC and a PhD from the Univesité Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, majoring in mineral nutrition of plants.
Dr. Zephyrin Luyindula
Director of Research
Eric Gagnon has more than 24 years’ experience, mostly in Africa, working with large projects and organisations in designing, implementing, managing, measuring and developing environmental and social programmes and strategies. A graduate of Laval University in Quebec, Canada, Eric developed field management expertise working with a number of international NGOs in remote areas at times of crisis including with OXFAM-Quebec where he was part of a team running refugee camps in the DRC in 2004-5, the Mines Advisory Group in 2005-6 which removed two tonnes of unexploded ordinance in the DRC following earlier conflicts and with Action Against Hunger in Uganda. Eric began working in the mining sector in Madagascar in 2009 as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager for Sherritt International, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel, and in 2012 joined World Titanium Resources as Community Relations Manager. Here he was responsible for developing the company’s CSR strategy which included programmes and plans in such areas as social investment, Environmental and Social Management and stakeholder engagement. Since 2013, Eric has been working as a CSR consultant and has lectured on CSR and Sustainable Development for a Master’s Degree program at the ISCAM business school in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Having lived and worked in a number of African countries for the last 12 years, Eric has strong cross-cultural credentials and extensive experience with African laws, regulations, cultures and traditions.
Mr. Eric Gagnon
Environmental, Social and Governance Director
Having graduated from the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium in 2005 with a “grande distinction” Master’s degree in bio-engineering, Pierre-Antoine Couvreur has spent his entire career working in the agricultural sector. Initially focussed on production management and quality control, including a period in the Agriculture Administration of the Wallonne Regional Government, Belgium, Pierre-Antoine joined Hargy Oil Palm Ltd in Papua New Guinea in 2009 as a Plantation Manager for a 2,500 ha oil palm plantation. He later became Environmental and Sustainability Manager for the Company, with responsibility for maintaining its RSPO and ISO 14001 certifications across 23,000 ha of company and local smallholder plantations and their three mills and left Hargy in 2013 to join Siat Gabon as Chief Operating Officer. At Siat Gabon, Pierre-Antoine was responsible for seven worksites spread across the country which included 13,000 ha of rubber plantations, a 6,000 ha oil palm plantations, a 5,000 head cattle ranch and all associated processing and downstream operations. During his time at Siat Gabon, Pierre-Antoine identified and implemented a number of operational improvements which resulted in higher yields/lower costs and implemented and delivered on a number of Capex project.
Mr. Pierre-Antoine Couvreur
Managing Director, PHC
Frank Braeken has extensive experience in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (“FMCG”) sector including 26 years with Unilever where he lived and worked in nine countries on four continents. In 2009, Mr. Braeken became head of Unilever’s Namca region, with responsibility for markets across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Africa. In 2011, Mr. Braeken became head of Unilever Africa where he had overall responsibility for the $3 billion operation. After leaving Unilever in 2013, Mr. Braeken became Chief Investment Officer of Amatheon Agri Holding, a company established to invest in African agriculture and food related businesses.
Mr. Frank Braeken
Ravi Sood is a financier and venture capitalist based in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Sood has been a founder of and the principal investor in several successful resource-based businesses in Africa and currently serves as a director of several public and private companies operating in the agriculture, forestry, mining, and oil & gas sectors. He was the the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Navina Asset Management Inc., a natural resources focused global asset management firm headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Sood led the investment activities of Navina and its predecessor company, Lawrence Asset Management Inc., from its founding in 2001 until he sold the firm in 2010.Mr. Sood was educated at the University of Waterloo (B.Mathematics) where he was a Descartes Fellow and the recipient of numerous national awards.
Mr. Ravi Sood
Nigel Gourlay is a chartered accountant and holds a degree in Agricultural Economics at London University. He has been a partner of Animos LLP since 2002. Prior to co-founding Animos in 2002 he spent twenty years in the consumer products industry with British American Tobacco PLC where his roles included Finance Director in Zaire (now DRC), Vice President of Marketing in the USA and Head of Business Development in London. He was a director of BATIF, the group’s debt funding vehicle and several other group subsidiaries. While with Animos his appointments have included main board director of NYSE, AIM and LSE listed corporations as well as several private companies.
Mr. Nigel Gourlay
David's main career is an investment banker. He has over 35 years experience at Baring Brothers, JPMorgan and Citigroup, where he was a Managing Director and head of the Financial Institutions Group. He has had a continuing interest in Africa since doing VSO in Nigeria, and a secondment to Barings affiliate in Lagos. He is a member of the investment committee of Africa Agriculture Fund, and Chairman of Goldenoil Holdings, the vehicle for AAFs palm oil related investments. He became Chairman of the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund in January 2014.
Mr. David White
Much of Peter’s 28-year career to date has been focused on emerging markets for multi-nationals,, including Dutch dairy businesses (DOMO and FRICO), Unilever (Europe, Latin America and Africa), Smollan (sub-Saharan Africa) and DIAGEO (GM - Angola). He has been an active member on a number of boards both in Africa and North America. Soon after completing his Masters in Economics, Peter joined Unilever where he spent close to 20 years including roles in developing markets in east, central and southern Africa including Marketing & Sales Director (Zimbabwe) and Managing Director (Mozambique and Tanzania). His last position being Director Market Development, Unilever Central Africa before joining DIAGEO in 2012. He specialises in setting up businesses from scratch establishing go-to-market systems and processes. The essence is building brand equities by making relevant products available and visible in the market. This entails reaching the bottom of the pyramid of the market: rural and high-density urban areas.
Mr. Peter van As
David Easton is an Investment Director and Head of Consumer Businesses at CDC Group Plc, the UK government’s Development Finance Institution. David leads CDC’s investment programme across agribusiness, retail, healthcare and education investing in many industry-leading companies across Africa and South Asia. He has served on the boards of many leading emerging markets businesses including Narayana Healthcare (NSE: NH) the leading affordable healthcare chain and Jumia, Africa’s largest ecommerce company. Prior to CDC, David was a private equity investor in the UK and co-founded the non-profit Africa Governance Initiative – focused on improving government delivery in some of the world’s poorest countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia and Rwanda.
Mr. David Easton
Nick Thompson CBE, is the former CEO of New Britain Palm Oil (NBPOL) and brings a wealth of palm oil industry experience to the Board of Feronia. Nick joined NPOL in 1984 and spent the first 10 years of his career in field based roles with responsabilities for field development, research and plantation management. He was appointed Managing Director of NBPOL in 1994 with overall responsability for all of the Group's operations and spent the following 21 years as Managing Director/CEO.
During his tenure, Nick was instrumental in NBPOL's transformation from a modest 15,400 ha oil palm plantation in to a world class producer of certified and sustainable palm oil, with NBPOL playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the Port Moresby Stock Exchange and becoming the largest single employer in Papua New Guinea. NBPOL became the worlds first ever oil palm company to be audited as Sustainable by the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was also voted by the World Economic Forum as a World Leader in Sustainable Agriculture.
In 2007 Nick lead the Company to a successful listing on the London Stock Exchanges and in 2010 he Company buildt a palm oil refinery in Liverpool, UK - the first refinery in the world to be dedicated to sustainable and traceable palm oil. Nick stepped down as CEO of NBPOL in 2015 following its $1.7 billion acquisition by Sime Derby Plantations. Nick has a degree in Agricultural Science, a masters Degree in Tropical Agricultural Crops and an MBA. In 2005 he was awarded the Papau New Guinea Independence Medal for services to industry and in 2015 was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to Agriculture and the West New Britain Community.
Mr. Nicholas Thompson CBE
Monique Gieskes career has been focused for more than thirty years on managerial, commercial and legal affairs in Africa, Europe and Asia. Born in Kinshasa and educated in Belgium and the USA, she has extensive experience in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector, automotive industry, luxury goods and Intellectual Property. In 2008, she launched the operations of the Vlisco Group in the DRC which, within a few years, went from start-up to becoming an iconical luxury goods company with a large distribution network and flagship stores in both Congo’s and Central Africa. In 2012, Mrs. Gieskes became Group Director Brand Protection and rolled out a comprehensive worldwide strategy to protect Vlisco’s IP assets and fight against counterfeit at source and in the African countries of destination. Through dedicated MoU’s, Monique negotiated partnerships in several African countries, including DRC, to empower customs against the plague of piracy and improve fiscal revenues of the states partnering with Vlisco, creating therefore a unique and profitable win/win situation between public administrations and private investor.
In 2012, Mrs. Gieskes also spearheaded the Vlisco Group’s women empowerment CSI initiative called “Vlisco Tailor Academy”, which is a fashion facilitation programme for underpriviledged, talented and motivated young women to gain financial autonomy and contribute to the development of their environment. Starting in Eastern Congo, Monique created this initiative that has been rolled out to Ghana and Nigeria. Since 2015, Mrs. Gieskes has been the Regional Director of Vlisco’s Central African cluster and a member of the Vlisco Group Executive Committee. Previously Mrs. Gieskes spent 13 years as a Partner in a major law firm in Kinshasa. As a Registered Patent and Trade Mark Attorney, she also owns an Intellectual Property practice in Kinshasa and, until 2014 was a board member at FEC, the Fédération des Entreprises du Congo.
Mrs. Monique Gieskes
David Osborne joined CDC in 2014 and is a Director and Head of Portfolio Management. His background is in private equity and infrastructure investing across Europe and Asia.He spent 24 years at 3i as a partner based in London and latterly Singapore. He then ran the Islamic Infrastructure Fund and was a managing partner at CapAsia, an emerging Asian infrastructure fund manager. He has an MA from Cambridge University in Genetics.