Noble Group, the Hong Kong-based, Singapore-listed global supply chain manager of agricultural, industrial and energy products, has announced the hiring of Ricardo Leiman. Based in Hong Kong, Leiman takes on the role of chief operating officer.

He formally replaces Gary Mize, who will continue his US-based role as consultant to the company. For the last two years, Richard Elman, chief executive officer of Noble Group, has carried out the COO role. In his new role, Leiman will also report to Elman.

The Brazilian-Dutch executive will lead Noble's day-to-day operations. Leiman was poached by the firm due to his 18-years worth of experience in international merchandising, logistics and risk management covering a wide range of raw materials.

He heads to Noble Group from Louis Dreyfus Corporation in London. At the firmÆs agricultural division, he was COO and was heavily involved in engineering a turnaround in its commodity business. Part of his role also included transforming the group's Asian operations from a marketing hub to a profit centre.

At the global commodities company, Leiman also consolidated trading, credit and financial risks, which included the segregation of freight trading from its service function and the development of risk metrics for cash and futures. Leiman also played a sizable role in Louis DreyfusÆs acquisitions in Russia and Ukraine.

Prior to Louis Dreyfus, Leiman was a vice president at Trader Classified Media, the worldÆs largest classified ads company.

Noble Group has revenues exceeding $9 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2005 and operates a network of over 70 offices in 42 countries. Recently, the company made waves by announcing it it is on the prowl for a major acquisition, potentially as big as$1 billion.