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Ethanol producer VeraSun Energy gets new chairman
Tuesday July 1, 7:53 am ET

Duane Gilliam succeeds Gordon Ommen as board chairman of ethanol producer VeraSun Energy

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) -- Ethanol producer VeraSun Energy Corp. on Tuesday named a former oil industry executive as its non-executive board chairman.

Duane Gilliam, a VeraSun director who also chairs the board's compensation committee, succeeds Gordon Ommen, who resigned "to focus on other business opportunities," the company said.

Don Endres continues as chief executive.

Gilliam retired from Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC in May 2003 as executive vice president of corporate affairs. He was president of Ashland Petroleum Co. until it merged with Marathon in 1998.

Gilliam has been chairman of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and been a director of the American Petroleum Institute.

The move comes as VeraSun and the entire ethanol industry struggle with record high costs for corn, its main feedstock. In the first half of this year corn costs shot up 66 percent. VeraSun's share price moved in the opposite direction: Since Dec. 21, 2007, shares have fallen 77 percent from $17.75 to close Monday at $4.13.

In recent weeks VeraSun announced it would not begin operating three newly completed ethanol plants because of "market conditions."

Goldman Sachs analyst Jason Channell, in a client note release Tuesday, reiterated his "Cautious" rating on the ethanol sector and his "Sell" rating on shares of VeraSun and its two main rivals, Pacific Ethanol Inc. and Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc.

Source: Associated Press

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