Bunge and Sofiproteol split some EU biodiesel plants

PARIS Fri Feb 1, 2013 7:39am EST

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PARIS Feb 1 (Reuters) - Sofiproteol and U.S. agribusiness group Bunge have decided to pull three out of five biodiesel plants from a joint venture in Europe, the French oilseed group said on Friday.

The chief executive of Sofiproteol, owner of Europe's largest biodiesel maker Diester Industrie, had told Reuters last week that the two firms were in talks to review their partnership in Diester Industrie International (DII), a spinoff in which Bunge's European subsidiary KBBV has a 40 percent share.

Under the deal, Diester Industrie would take over DII's Belgian plant, Oleon Biodiesel, while Bunge would take over Novaol Austria and Mannheim Bio Fuel (MBF) in Germany, Sofiproteol said in a statement.

DII will keep its plant in Livorno, Italy, where production was halted a year ago due to overcapacity. Sofiproteol CEO Jean-Philippe Puig said last week there were no plans to restart it.

DII will also keep its 50 percent share in Germany's Natural Energy West (NEW) alongside local partners.

The split will cut the capacity of DII, created in 2005, to 700,000 tonnes a year from 1 million, Sofiproteol said.

Diester Industrie also has seven plants in France.

Biodiesel is only one of several activities of Sofiproteol, controlled by French oilseed growers, along with vegetable oil, animal feed and green chemicals. The group had a turnover of around 7 billion euros ($9.3 billion) in 2012.

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