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Louis Dreyfus ring-fences some units, considers options

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London | Reuters — Louis Dreyfus Commodities is ring-fencing its crop inputs, metals, juice and dairy units and is considering options ranging from joint ventures to the sale of certain assets, a senior company source said.

In December, Reuters reported the trade house had been seeking buyers for its juice and fertilizer units for some months, as it focused on higher-margin activities.

“Ring-fencing” refers to a corporation removing or separating a specific set of assets from its accounts.

“The company is actually in the process of ring-fencing four areas: fertilizers and inputs, metals, juice and dairy. For a couple of them, options could range from JVs to the sale of assets,” the source said.

The source pointed to the desire for a strategic partnership in its juice business.

“In the juice business, the company is looking for a partner for distribution who would have scale and focus on markets such as Asia and China,” the source said.

The firm is one of the world’s biggest juice processors by volume, with assets including seven processing factories in Brazil, the U.S. and China, as well as orange groves in top grower Brazil and a global trading network.

Dreyfus had plans to grow its operations in China, along with Russia, the source said.

“In Russia, major infrastructure investments are required to facilitate grain exports.”

Like many of its peers, Dreyfus — one of the “ABCD” quartet of traders that dominate global agricultural trading, along with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill — has been hit by falling prices and weak demand.

Dreyfus’ profits for the six months to June 30 halved from the same period a year earlier in what the company described as a “challenging environment”.

The company appointed Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena as chief executive last year, previously the group’s Asia chief, and has subsequently implemented wider management changes including replacing some heads of units.

Reporting for Reuters by Dmitry Zhdannikov, writing by Sarah McFarlane.

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