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CEO takes leave while undergoing cancer surgery

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The chief executive officer of Plymouth-based Mosaic Co. will take a medical leave while he recovers from cancer surgery.

The Star Tribune reports that James Prokopanko, 60, announced in March that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy. He has continued to work at Mosaic, one of the world’s largest fertilizer producers, during his course of treatment. He expects to return to running the company later this year. The company has not indicated the type of cancer that Prokopanko has.

Starting June 1, Mosaic chief financial officer Larry Stranghoener will serve as interim CEO, but the company said that he will retire at the end of the year. When Prokopanko returns following his medical leave, Stranghoener will become an executive vice president for strategy and business development until his retirement.

The Business Journal profiled Stranghoener in 2011 after naming him CFO of the year. The story said he has been a guiding force in the company;in 2004, he was the first outsider hired as the company was being formed through the merger of Cargill's crop-nutrition business with IMC Global Inc.

"Stranghoener, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, has played a key role in shaping The Mosaic Co.into the global crop-nutrition powerhouse it is today," the story said. "What started as a $6 billion company in 2004 is now a $30 billion, Fortune 300 company with 7,700 employees around the world."

The 2011 profile included an admiring comment from Prokopanko, about the executive who will temporarily replace him.

"Larry has contributed more to the establishment and success of this enterprise in its short seven years of existence than many financial leaders contribute in a lifetime," Prokopanko said.

Before joining Mosaic, Stranghoener was an executive with Thrivent and Honeywell.

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