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Bunge struggling to sell sugar operations

08 May 20182 min reading
Bunge, a leading commodity trader , reportedly is struggling to sell its sugar trading operations. According to Reuters, Bunge had put a value of about $75 million on the sugar trading unit, but potential bidders viewed the price as too high. Bunge is struggling to sell its sugar trading operations, according to two sources familiar with the matter, frustrating the 200-year-old agricultural merchant's strategy of slimming down to focus on core areas and improve profitability. German sugar refiner Nordzucker and Singapore-based agribusiness firm Wilmar International were among parties that had been initially interested, but nothing has materialised, Reuters reported. Sale difficulties risk complicating Bunge's plan, announced by CEO Soren Schroder in February, to exit global sugar trading and distribution to concentrate on its core grain and oilseed operations. According to Reuters, Wilmar said it had not held talks with Bunge over the sugar trading business, but declined to comment when asked if it had considered acquiring the unit. Nordzucker declined to comment. Bunge's move to exit sugar trading followed a $69 million group loss in the fourth quarter, which compared with a profit of $262 million a year earlier, the latest in a series of poor results. The lack of strong buyer interest in the sugar unit also illustrates the wider malaise facing the industry, where a supply glut has driven down prices, squeezing Bunge and its global competitors. Louis Dreyfus Co is restructuring its sugar subsidiary in Brazil, for example.The two sources, who talked to the news agency, said Bunge targeted a value for the unit, excluding debt, of around $75 million, which suitors deemed too high for what was on offer. One said if Bunge could not find a buyer, it would have to wind down the operation.The lack of appetite for sugar assets and tough market conditions could also complicate separate plans by Bunge to divest its larger Brazilian sugar-milling business via a flotation, according to the same source. The business is expected to be valued at between $1 billion and $2 billion.
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