ADM in preliminary deal to sell stake in Mexico's Gruma

MEXICO CITY Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:16am EDT

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S. agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM.N) said on Tuesday that it reached a preliminary deal to sell its stake in Mexican corn flour processor Gruma (GRUMAB.MX) to the chairman of Mexican airport operator Asur.

ADM has agreed to sell its 23 percent stake in Gruma as well as minority ownership in several joint ventures with the Mexican firm to Fernando Chico Pardo, chairman of the board and shareholder in Asur (ASURB.MX), ADM spokeswoman Jackie Anderson said in an email.

"This preliminary agreement is non-binding and is subject to negotiation of a definitive agreement, approval by ADM's and Gruma's boards of directors, as well as certain regulatory and other approvals and rights of first refusal," Anderson said.

Gruma said in a statement that it would consider Chico Pardo's interest. It added that the entrepreneur was also interested in acquiring from ADM an indirect stake of 3 percent of Gruma's subsidiaries in Venezuela, Monaca and Demaseca, as well as 40 percent of Mexican wheat flour business Molinera de Mexico and 20 percent of U.S.-based corn flour company Azteca Milling.

Anderson did not specify the terms of the agreement. The value of ADM's stake in Gruma was worth 5.15 billion Mexican pesos ($397 million), according to Thomson Reuters data and based on Gruma's closing price Monday of 39.36 pesos.

ADM shares fell 2.67 percent to $27.29 amid a sharp drop on Wall Street while Gruma shares rose 5.26 percent to 41.43 pesos.

Gruma's founder, Mexican businessman Roberto Gonzalez Barrera, who was also chairman emeritus of bank Banorte, died in August. He and his family controlled 50.05 percent of the company's stock, according to Thomson Reuters data.

($1 = 12.9737 Mexican pesos)

(Reporting by Tomas Sarmiento and Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Chris Gallagher)

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