Inside the ultrasecretive exit of CEO Mayo Schmidt from Nutrien after eight months – by Niall McGee and Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – March 19, 2022)

Nutrien Ltd. cut ties with chief executive officer Mayo Schmidt after a culture clash over his imperious leadership style, his sluggishness in getting things done and friction involving his chief of staff, according to three sources.

The exit of Mr. Schmidt in January after only eight months on the job shocked investors in the world’s biggest fertilizer company, which lost more than $2-billion in market value after the news dropped. Nutrien did not explain why Mr. Schmidt was stepping down, and analysts criticized the company for being opaque.

Saskatoon-based Nutrien also parted ways with Mr. Schmidt’s predecessor, Chuck Magro – in April of last year – with no warning, and no explanation of what went wrong. The Globe and Mail subsequently reported that Mr. Magro left after he clashed with the board over a major strategic decision involving a potential joint venture with mining titan BHP Group Ltd.

But the departure of Mr. Schmidt was a very different affair. Joel Jackson, analyst with BMO Capital Markets Inc., said a jarring change in corporate culture that occurred after Mr. Schmidt got the job played a big role in his exit. Three other sources corroborated this account.

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