WILMINGTON – Corteva, the global agricultural chemical and seed company that spun out of DowDuPont, has moved its corporate headquarters from Delaware to Indianapolis, a symbolic loss for the First State.
The change in designation, effective Tuesday, comes as Corteva has grappled with a largely office-based workforce at Chestnut Run that has moved remote during the pandemic. Its consolidation of office space at the Chestnut Run research and development campus led its landlord, DuPont, to list 41,635 square feet at the shared complex for lease – about half of its space on the campus.
A Corteva spokesperson told Delaware Business Times last fall that the consolidation didn’t result in any job losses, but was the result of employees spending less time in the office. On Wednesday, a spokesperson confirmed that there are no plans to reduce the company’s presence in Wilmington and that some executives would continue to be based here.
“Wilmington will maintain an important role,” the spokesperson added, while declining an invitation to interview a company executive regarding the move.
The move of Corteva’s corporate headquarters comes less than four months after Corteva hired new CEO Chuck Magro, who last led a major Canadian fertilizer company. The chief executive did not bring up the move on the company’s Feb. 3 conference call regarding its fourth quarter earnings report and he has not participated in media interviews since taking the helm.
The headquarters move announcement Tuesday was paired with the news of a longtime executive vice president’s retirement, relegated to a short notice in a press release. Magro said that the pandemic-spurred move to remote work led the company to the decision.
“In today’s flexible world of work, we have seen clear proof that our dedicated employees can be productive wherever they are. Designating our Indianapolis location as the Corteva headquarters brings us closer to our operations, our technology, and our customers, while optimizing our flexibility,” the CEO said in a statement.
The vast majority of Corteva’s manufacturing and processing plants, as well as many office workers, are based in the Midwest and have been since before its spin out of the brief Dow-DuPont marriage in 2019. While Corteva has more than 20,000 worldwide employees, only a few hundred remain at the Chestnut Run offices that served as the post-spinout headquarters. It does not rank within Delaware’s Top 25 employers.
The ties that bound Corteva to Delaware were largely in its history with DuPont, which at one time spanned a number of industries from agriscience to chemistry, advanced materials to food science. Through mergers and spinoffs, which also created Wilmington-based Chemours, DuPont too has slimmed down and refocused, with new emphasis aimed at telecommunications, electric vehicles and more.
Indiana officials lobbied DowDuPont leaders hard five years ago to make Indianapolis its headquarters for the future agriscience company – it already employs about 1,500 at offices and a research-and-development center there. They were unsuccessful, however, as Wilmington and Johnston, Iowa – home to DuPont’s Pioneer seed business – were designated as its two “global business centers.”
Now Magro, the former president and CEO of 3-year-old Nutrien, the world’s largest producer of potash and the third largest producer of nitrogen fertilizer, will base his office out of Indianapolis though, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.
He took over the reins at Corteva on Nov. 1 while also joining the board, succeeding James “Jim” Collins Jr., who ran the company since it spun out. Collins spent 37 years with Corteva, DuPont and DowDuPont, but came under criticism from an activist investment firm last year as it sought to derive higher share values from the company.
In Magro, Corteva is getting a chief executive with substantial experience in the industry. He had served at the helm of Nutrien since it was formed in 2018 with the merger of Agrium and PotashCorp, and was CEO at Agrium for four years before the merger.
Magro held a variety of other senior roles at Agrium before becoming CEO, such as chief operating officer, chief risk officer, executive vice president of corporate development, and vice president of manufacturing. He joined Agrium in 2009 following a career with NOVA Chemicals.
“Our board is confident that he is the right leader to carry our strong momentum forward and create significant near- and long-term shareholder value,” said Greg Page, lead independent director for Corteva’s board, in a November statement announcing his hire.
After Corteva’s latest earnings report and news of its headquarters move under Magro, share value has risen nearly 5% as of midday Tuesday.
The departure of Corteva, coupled with the December acquisition of Dover Motorsports Inc., means that Delaware’s number of publicly traded New York Stock Exchange companies headquartered here has fallen back to a dozen.