Trader Louis Dreyfus to keep capital options open - FT

PARIS, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 11:25am EDT

PARIS, April 1 (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus Commodities would consider a share listing or tie-up with a partner as it leaves open options for developing the 163-year-old family-owned firm, main shareholder Margarita Louis-Dreyfus said in a newspaper interview.

Louis Dreyfus is the "D" of the so-called ABCD majors that dominate agricultural commodities, alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill.

The group has plans to step up investments, supported by three bond issues in the past two years, and has previously raised a share listing as a possibility for the future.

"The message is clear: we will do what's best for the company. And if at a given moment we find - not for financial but for strategic reasons - that we have to work with a partner or the stock market, then we'll be ready," Louis-Dreyfus told the Financial Times in an interview published on Tuesday.

A flurry of consolidation deals among agricultural traders, as well as the listing of diversified commodity group Glencore , has fuelled speculation about the future ownership of the Louis Dreyfus group.

Publishing its annual results and report last week, Louis Dreyfus Commodities said it would invest $4 billion between 2014 and 2018 in a bid to double sales from $63.6 billion last year.

"While maintaining the spirit of a family company, we are now aligning our business model and operations more closely with those of a publicly listed company," Margarita Louis-Dreyfus wrote in the annual report.

In a further step towards adopting a similar structure to a listed company, Louis Dreyfus Commodities is to appoint three non-executive directors to its board in the coming week, the Financial Times said.

But Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who controls the trading group via the Akira family trust, told the newspaper that the group had no immediate plans to open up to external shareholders.

"People don't want to believe it is possible to just keep all our options open. But right now that is the best approach for the company," she said. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Andrew Callus and Keiron Henderson)

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