Grant, who was also elected to the biotechnology firm’s board of directors, has served as its chief operating officer for the past three years. His selection followed a five-month search conducted by the global executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

“Hugh Grant has been an integral part of Monsanto’s strategic transition from a chemistry-based company to a company based largely on seeds and biotechnology traits,” said Monsanto Chairman Frank AtLee, who made the announcement late yesterday afternoon.

“Hugh’s strong operational background, coupled with his keen knowledge of the business and his ability to earn the trust of a wide range of stakeholders in challenging situations, made him the board’s choice to lead Monsanto going forward.”

“We’re at an important crossroads for our business,” Grant said. “Agricultural biotechnology and genomics have great potential, and Monsanto remains at the forefront of these technologies. However, we will continue to balance this longer-term potential by maintaining our cautiously optimistic approach as we focus on delivering near-term results.

“We are continually looking for ways to create longer-term value for our shareowners, our customers, and our employees,” Grant said. “The next three-to-five years are especially important to our company as we continue on our journey of becoming the high-tech solutions provider to farmers, agricultural retailers and distributors, grain handlers, food processors, food companies, and all those interested in agriculture around the globe.”

AtLee said Monsanto was fortunate to have a highly qualified candidate within the company. “Even so, the board of directors agreed that we had the responsibility to interview external candidates. Several excellent and qualified candidates were identified.

“But in the end, our conclusion is that Hugh Grant is extremely qualified and the best person for this job. He has done an exceptional job of building trust internally and externally during a challenging period for Monsanto.”

Grant, a native of Scotland, joined Monsanto in 1981 as a product development representative and spent the first 10 years of his career with Monsanto’s agricultural business in a variety of European sales, product development and management responsibilities.

In 1991, he relocated to St. Louis as global strategy director of the agriculture division and was responsible for global management of the Roundup herbicide franchise. In 1995, he was named Monsanto’s managing director for the Asia-Pacific region, where he had responsibility for the company’s agriculture, nutrition and pharmaceutical business in Southeast Asia.

He was named co-president of the company’s agriculture division in 1998, a position in which he jointly oversaw global business operations and led the business and product strategy. As the co-president, he reported to the president of Monsanto and was responsible for the operational and commercial performance of all agriculture division business units and brands worldwide.

Since 2000, Grant has served as the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer with overall responsibility for leading the operations and performance of the commercial seed, chemistry and biotechnology traits business inclusive of sales and marketing, information technology, distribution and manufacturing worldwide.

AtLee, who served as interim president and CEO since December, will continue to serve as chairman of the board of the company.

The company also reconfirmed its full-year 2003 earnings per share guidance in the range of $1.25 to $1.40, and its second-quarter 2003 EPS guidance in the range of $0.91 to $1.05. The full-year EPS guidance excludes a 5-cent per share cumulative effect of adopting the asset retirement obligations accounting standard.

Management also reiterated its expectation of generating free cash flow in 2003 in the range of $350 million to $400 million. Management anticipates cash from operating activities will be in the range of $530 million to $560 million, and that cash used in investing activities will be in the range of $160 million to $180 million.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com