Bunge strikes deal to sell Moroccan fertilizer stake

CHICAGO, Sept 5 Thu Sep 5, 2013 6:23pm EDT

CHICAGO, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Bunge Ltd said on Thursday it was selling its stake in a Moroccan fertilizer company, less than a month after finalizing the sale of its Brazilian fertilizer operations.

Bunge is selling its 50 percent stake in Bunge Maroc Phosphore S.A. to OCP Group, which already owns half the company. The joint venture was formed in 2008 to produce fertilizer in Morocco and serve as a source of nutrients for Bunge fertilizer businesses in South America.

Bunge said in a statement the deal is expected to close by the end of 2013. Company spokesman Stewart Lindsay declined to disclose the terms.

Bunge is one of the four "ABCD" companies that dominate the flow of agricultural goods around the world. The others are Archer Daniels Midland Co, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Corp.

In 2007, Bunge said it and OCP would finance the Moroccan joint venture with an estimated $350 million in debt and equity over three years. At the time, Bunge estimated its equity investment at $57 million.

Last month, Bunge said it had completed the sale of its Brazilian fertilizer operations to Yara International for $750 million. Through an agreement with Yara, Bunge continues to supply fertilizer to farmers in Brazil. Bunge also operates a fertilizer terminal in Brazil, and manufactures and sells fertilizer in Argentina.

Chief Executive Soren Schroder, who took the helm on June 1, said the Moroccan deal "makes strategic sense" following the sale of Bunge's Brazilian business.

In July, Schroder said he was unsatisfied with the company's financial performance and that he would reduce capital expenditures and postpone projects to boost results.

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