Address of the member of Survey Board of NIBULON Gilles Mettetal

After more than five years as a member of the Supervisory and Advisory Boards of NIBULON, it is time for me to move on. It has been an enormous privilege to cooperate so closely with a company that has contributed so much to Ukraine and to global food security. NIBULON has been a model and an inspiration for many companies throughout the World. As a Ukrainian family-owned company, it was able to compete effectively with global multinational groups and to become a local leader. NIBULON always applied the best quality, reliability, and integrity standards. When I was working at EBRD it was considered as one of the best companies within our portfolio. For me, it was a great learning experience to be part of such a company and to see how it was working from inside. I must say, when I joined NIBULON back in 2018, I did not expect to live such an intensive emotional, personal, and professional experience! At the beginning, it was a challenge to find a role for a Supervisory Board in a company that was managed by a visionary, very much “hands on” General Manager who created the company and was its main shareholder. Oleksiy Vadatursky was fully dedicated to his company. It was his life. He created and dreamed of NIBULON. When Andriy joined as Chairman of the Board, we were still struggling to get any support from the General Manager for our proposals. As a main shareholder, he kept saying that he did not pay us for us to evaluate his performance! Yet, this is one of the tasks of a Supervisory Board to give an independent view on the performance of a company and we worked hard to try to achieve it. We managed to get some positive results. The presentation of the information and its quality were improved. More importantly we agreed on a five year transparent investment plan which was respected by the company. Creditors were concerned that the General Manager had excessively invested in infrastructure and struggled to achieve volumes of exports that justified such investments. However, he demonstrated later that such levels can be achieved. When Covid arrived, the Company and its shareholders (father and son) were fully dedicated to supporting the local communities and made a huge difference, contributing to saving and improving many lives. It was impressive to see such a dedication. During that period, the communication became difficult to understand what happened even if the company still managed to perform well and was reaching a level of exports that had never been achieved. Still, the situation created some frustrations and provoked the departure of two of the three external Directors. I was left with Andriy and Oleksiy. In January 2022, we had a board meeting to discuss what would happen if Russia decided to invade Ukraine. In February, the full-scale invasion happened with all the consequences that we all know very well and the tragedy of the loss of Oleksiy Vadatursky and his wife a few months later. I still struggle to accept that this has happened. Over the years, Oleksiy became a person that I respected a lot and from whom I learned a lot. He also became a real friend and confidant. In August 2022, Andriy and I were the only Board members remaining. The Board did not exist anymore. The company had not managed to export a lot since the beginning of the war as the Black Sea was closed. I still remember with emotions the call I had with Andriy a few days after the tragic event. We tried to establish some kind of priority for the Company. We agreed that the first one was to work on a monthly cash flow projection that would give visibility regarding the potential future of Nibulon while it was struggling to regain market. The Black Sea Grain corridor agreement was signed on 22 July 2022, a few days before the death of NIBULON founder! The second priority was to try to find an agreement with all the creditors considering that large debt portfolio that the company had. We knew it would be a complicated and frustrating negotiation process. We also tried to attract the right expertise and we set up an Advisory Board that could support Andriy as necessary during these difficult times. It was also obvious that the company needed to redefine all its corporate governance and thanks to some support from EBRD, a consultant company was appointed to prepare proposals. Andriy’s first decision was also to move most of the management from Mykolaiv to Kyiv where it was felt people could work in a safer environment and where it would be easier to attract the talents that the company needed. A Head of Human Resources was quickly appointed. More importantly, the company needed a change of culture to move from a very centralized decision-making process to a decentralized structure where managers should become used to take responsibilities and initiatives and monitored on a set of performance criteria. It was a move of leadership from a General Manager to a Chief Operating Officer. This move is still under way and will take some time to be completed but the positive results on the company’s performance have quickly materialized. NIBULON today has been profitable for more than six months, it has restored its market share compared to the total exports of Ukrainian grain. It has even sometimes been exceeding this market share thanks to the Ismail terminal, one of the last decisions taken by the founder of the company. The company obtained grant support from USAID for Ismail and from Germany for the demining activities on farming land, something that the country will need widely and where NIBULON is building the right skills. The management was reorganized and modernized. Many people were recruited, and some left the company. Functions and tasks were defined more precisely. An IT upgrading process is under way and a new Board structure is being implemented. A detailed budget has been prepared and it is finally possible to assess the performance of each division of the company and to set performance objectives. Something that the Supervisory Board, when I joined, was striving to achieve. More and more agreements are being reached with all the company’s creditors and, hopefully, the debt restructuring will allow that company to cure all its defaults and it will soon be possible to focus on operational matters. After a bit more than a year, Andriy has established himself as a well-respected and credible leader for NIBULON and he can be considered as a true successor of his father. As expected, he has a very different management style which is based more on delegation and responsibilities. Still there are some similarities regarding the temper which clearly shows that Andriy is the son of his father and that the company is really a family-owned company with a full control of its choices and destiny! I am sure that if Oleksiy could see NIBULON today, he would be very proud of what NIBULON has achieved under Andriy’s leadership. Of course, considering the ongoing terrible situation, it is difficult to predict what will happen to NIBULON in the future. The company will have to repay a long-term debt that was used to finance infrastructures that the company will not be able to use probably for some years to come before river transportation is reestablished. Repaying this debt will be a challenge. Still, it has demonstrated that its stronger assets are its people and its connections to the Ukrainian farmers which allows NIBULON to source grain where other companies struggle. In the future, the company will face important strategic decisions that will need careful analysis and discussions. Should the company integrate more upstream into farming operations and increase its land bank to integrate further vertically and capture more margins? Or should it strengthen its relationship with farms by providing services and inputs and getting closer to contract farming operations like it is common in Asia? Maybe NIBULON should invest into processing to add more value to its exports? Could another option be also to invest in countries which traditionally import its products and to integrate further from the farm to the consumer? Finally, it could just focus on improving the logistics and remain a trading and logistic company. All these options can only be considered once the debt comes back to a more manageable level. They will also have to aim at achieving even better sustainability to aim at increasing its contribution towards climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as biodiversity. Promoting better agriculture, like regenerative agriculture would be another great achievement. I don’t know what the future will reserve but I know that NIBULON will remain a leading agribusiness company bringing key benefits to the economy and to the people in Ukraine. I also know that I will stay connected to the company and that I made friends there that I will never forget. There have been difficult times, but I feel honored and privileged to have been an observer and, maybe, a little bit an actor of the changes that NIBULON went through over these five years. Thank you to Andriy, or course to Oleksiy and to all the people I worked with for their dedication and their confidence in my support and contributions. Keep inspiring others and improve lives!

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Best Employer of the Year in the Socially Responsible Employer nomination
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All-Ukrainian Public Organization “Taxpayers Association of Ukraine”


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2017, 2019

Андрій Вадатурський


Андрій Вадатурський став генеральним директором «НІБУЛОНу» після понад 15 років роботи в компанії — в липні 2022 року.

Він прийняв цю посаду після трагічної загибелі свого батька та засновника «НІБУЛОНу» Олексія Вадатурського разом із матір’ю Раїсою Вадатурською під час російського ракетного удару по їхньому дому в Миколаєві.

З 2014 до 2019 рік був народним депутатом України від одномандатного округу в Миколаївській області та членом Комітету з питань аграрної політики. У 2017 році створив і очолив велику міжпартійну групу, яка виступала за розвиток українських річок як транспортного засобу.  

Має ступінь магістра електротехніки Українського державного морського технічного університету та ступінь магістра економіки промисловості Лондонської школи економіки. У 2009 році за вагомий внесок у розвиток агропромислового комплексу України був нагороджений Президентом України, йому присвоєно звання «Заслужений працівник сільського господарства».

Одружений, має трьох дітей.

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