"For us, it was important to get a Danish chairman who knows the Danish rules of the game and who would be a strong partner for the management team, and I see it as a huge advantage to have someone like Jens Bigum, who is deeply rooted in the Danish food industry, on the team," said Lars Frederiksen, president and CEO of Chr. Hansen.
Bigum was elected at a board meeting with the company's new owners, the private equity company PAI partners.
"Jens Bigum is the perfect chairman of Chr. Hansen in the challenges we are facing with high demands on growth and profitability," said Bigum.
Bigum has worked in the food sector since he graduated in agriculture from The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University of Denmark in 1965. He was head of Europe's largest dairy company, Arla Foods from its establishment in 2000 until January 2004.
Bigum already serves on several boards. He is chairman of the board of Carlsberg Breweries, Arla Foods International and Toms.
"I have known Chr. Hansen for many years and always found it an exciting company with a large potential, which is clearly demonstrated by the past years' expansion in Eastern Europe, the Far East and South America," said Bigum. " Now we are at the threshold of a new phase where importance will be attached to further growth, both organically and via acquisitions."
Bigum's appointment means that another piece of Chr. Hansen's new ownership structure and organization has fallen into place. Carsten Hellmann and Jesper Allentoft have already been named executive vice president of global sales and vice president of human resources respectively.
Jens Bigum will become chairman of the board of the holding company that was established when PAI partners bought Chr. Hansen this summer. This holding company is called Ladybird, but is expected to change name to Chr. Hansen Holding when this name becomes "available" again.
This is expected to happen if and when the present Chr. Hansen Holding is merged into and changes name to ALK-Abello at the company's annual general meeting on 13 December 2005.