UPDATE 3-Dutch grains trader files for bankruptcy; mkt watchful

Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:10pm EST

Related Topics

* Says bankruptcy effective Nov. 24

* Firm still looking at some solutions

* Traders await response from curators

* May be knock-on effect on grains markets - traders

(Adds lawyer comment)

By Catherine Hornby

AMSTERDAM, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Financially troubled Dutch commodities trader Schouten Ceralco said on Tuesday it had filed for bankruptcy, raising concerns about possible glitches in European grains markets.

Schouten Ceralco, a grains and compound feeds trader which has been doing business since 1893, said in a statement the bankruptcy would be effective as of Tuesday after it made the filing with a Dutch court.

"During the last few weeks, Schouten Ceralco has explored several possibilities to continue its activities as a trading company in agricultural products," the firm said in the statement. "Unfortunately, this has not led to a positive result."

A spokesman for the company said it was still working on some solutions, and hoped to be able to give a further update within a week or two.

"It's up to the (bankruptcy) curators what happens now, whether the running contracts will be executed or not. If they won't be executed, people need to buy additional material," said a broker in Belgium.

STRING TRADES

German traders said they did not expect supply gaps from the Schouten insolvency but there was concern about the processing of past trades involving the company.

"There are often string trades involving a series of sales between several companies and if one participant pulls out the entire trade will be stopped," one trader said.

"These trades can involve delivery in several months' time. We might not have a clear picture for some time."

Schouten Ceralco was involved in wheat and feed grain trading in several countries including Germany and the Benelux region, acting as a broker between consumers and small traders in country areas.

It traded about 2 million tonnes of cereals each season, mainly in the EU but also in the Black Sea region, according to a source familiar with the company.

OTHER UNITS

Market players said that talk about Schouten Ceralco facing financial difficulties had led to position adjustments in recent days.

"Those who had sold to Schouten went to sell somewhere else, and those who were buyers went to buy somewhere else, and this has led to a boost in activity," a cash cereals broker told Reuters.

"The only thing left for these clients is to buy handkerchiefs. There is not a great deal they will get back. One cannot shave a bald man," the broker added.

In Dutch law, if a company files for bankruptcy a court will appoint a liquidator whose duty is to sell off all the assets and distribute the proceeds among creditors, said Rob Abendroth, a lawyer for Allen & Overy in Amsterdam.

"This is when the curtain drops. The liquidator steps into the shoes of management," Abendroth said.

Schouten Ceralco is a unit of Royal Schouten Group, which also has a vegetable oils refinery and other food, feed and bioenergy production divisions.

"The bankruptcy is only for Schouten Ceralco, but there are several other (Schouten units) so the question is what will happen with the others," said the broker in Belgium.

Traders have also said that the Romij vegetable oils refinery in Rotterdam, another unit of Royal Schouten, is closing operations. No one was immediately available to comment at the refinery on Tuesday. (Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger in Amsterdam, Valerie Parent in Paris and Michael Hogan in Hamburg, editing by John Stonestreet and Jon Loades-Carter) ((catherine.hornby@reuters.com; + 31 20 504 5009; Reuters Messaging: catherine.hornby.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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