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By Gus Trompiz
PARIS, June 12 (Reuters) - European market operator Euronext announced on Thursday plans to develop ties with China's Dalian Commodity Exchange in a move to boost its agricultural derivatives business following its spin-off from IntercontinentalExchange.
Euronext, which kicked off an initial public offering on Tuesday, operates Paris-based agricultural derivatives and has stressed innovation in derivatives as a focus for the company after its IPO.
In a memorandum of understanding, Euronext and the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) agreed to cooperate on research and product development and to promote each other's activities.
"You can expect this to have an agricultural focus," Lee Hodgkinson, Euronext's head of global markets and sales, told Reuters by telephone, adding that this marked a first such international partnership for Euronext in derivatives.
Euronext's main commodity activity is the milling wheat futures <0#BL2:> that have become a benchmark for the European market. It is also expanding its oilseed offering, with plans to add rapeseed meal and oil contracts in the second half of this year to its existing rapeseed futures <0#COM:>.
"Our commodities franchise is a fast-growing area within Euronext as we launch new products and build our footprint internationally. Today's signature marks another important moment in its development," Dominique Cerutti, CEO of Euronext, said in a statement.
DCE, which offers agricultural and other commodity products such as iron ore, is an international reference for the oilseed sector through its soybean <0#DSA:>, soymeal <0#DSM:> and soyoil <0#DBY:> futures.
As the world's biggest importer of soybeans, China is a major influence on the global market for the oilseed.
Oilseeds "will be an area of exploration" for Euronext and DCE in their cooperation, Hodgkinson said.
He declined to give details on potential joint initiatives or say when they might be launched.
Euronext's wheat futures have attracted the interest of CME Group, the world's largest futures exchange operator, which is seeking to enter the European wheat market.
CME said earlier this week it is considering either a partnership with Euronext or developing its own European wheat contract, as part of a push into the European commodity market. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; additional reporting by Valerie Parent; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jason Neely)