Cargill says still on growth course in Germany

HAMBURG, June 28 Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:37am EDT

HAMBURG, June 28 (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill still sees opportunities for growth in Germany following rapid expansion in the country in recent years, the head of its German operations said on Friday.

"If there are possibilities in Germany acquisitions cannot be ruled out if the suitable opportunity arises," said Cargill's German head Ludger te Laak. "However this does not mean that we have concrete projects."

Germany is a country where Cargill continued to seek growth, he said.

Cargill's German operations have 1,700 personnel in 13 locations. Along with major grains and oilseeds trading, Cargill is also a leading German cocoa grinder and has large chocolate, food additive, biofuel, starch and sweetner production in the country. The group does not release financial details about its German operations.

The group has undertaken a series of acquisitions in Germany in the last 9 years, including the purchase of German cocoa grinder Kakao Verarbeitung Berlin in 2011 following previous acquisitions of German cocoa processing activities from Swiss group Nestle and the food additives business of German group Degussa.

"Germany has increased its attractiveness to Cargill as a business location in the past five to ten years," te Laak told Reuters during a company presentation in Hamburg.

Hermann Steep, Cargill's German head of grains and oilseeds, said Cargill continued to regard biodiesel as a long-term activity in Germany despite a difficult current biofuel market.

Cargill closed a 120,000 tonne annual capacity biodiesel plant at Wittenberge in Germany in November 2012, citing industry overcapacity.

Germany's biodiesel industry, Europe's largest, has been working at only around 50 percent of capacity as the country taxed the green fuel while the European Union is debating limits on biofuels produced from food crops.

Cargill also has a modern 250,000 tonne biodiesel plant at Hoechst near Frankfurt which the group regards as having a good long-term future, said Steep.

Cargill continues to push growth in its major German grain trade and vegetable oils sector, he said. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Patrick Graham)

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