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UPDATE 1-Bunge names acting CEO Gregory Heckman as new chief executive

(Adds background, details, company board quote)

By Karl Plume

April 25 (Reuters) - Global grains trader Bunge Ltd on Thursday named Gregory Heckman as its chief executive officer, three months after he took the helm in an interim capacity.

Heckman, a founding partner of private investment firm Flatwater Partners and the former chief executive of grains trader Gavilon Group, was appointed acting CEO in January after long-serving CEO Soren Schroder was removed.

The leadership change comes after a turbulent period for the two-century-old company as profits in its core grain trading, handling and processing business thinned due to a global grain supply glut and a bruising U.S.-China trade war that redrew global commodity flows.

"After a thorough, global search process, the Board clearly recognized that Greg has the unique combination of expertise, vision and leadership to successfully lead Bunge," Kathleen Hyle, Bunge's non-executive board chair, said in a statement.

Heckman joined the Bunge board late last year as part of a deal to ease activist investor pressure on the company following a string of weak results that made Bunge vulnerable to takeover attempts by rival Archer Daniels Midland Co and global commodities trader Glencore Plc.

Bunge has in recent years invested in higher-margin businesses such as food ingredients and specialty oils to help minimize the impact of slumping profits in its core grains business.

The company is one of the "ABCD" quartet of global grain merchants, which include ADM, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Co.

Shares of White Plains, New York-based Bunge closed down 4.9 percent on Thursday to $48.60, ahead of the CEO announcement. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago and Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Alistair Bell)

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