* $5.6 bln deal delayed by China regulatory reviews
* Marubeni is one of two major deals being held up
* Glencore purchase of Xstrata also delayed by China
By James Topham
TOKYO, April 2 Japanese trading house Marubeni
Corp has again been forced to delay the closure of its
$5.6 billion purchase of U.S. grain merchant Gavilon because
Chinese regulators have not finished their appraisal of the
It is one of two major deals being held up by Chinese
anti-trust authorities. Glencore International Plc on
Tuesday extended the closing of its $35 billion purchase of
Xstrata Plc due to an ongoing investigation by officials
Marubeni's most ambitious deal, which has received clearance
from U.S. and European anti-trust authorities, needs Chinese
approval because the trader will account for about a fifth of
supplies of grains to the world's most populous country through
"It's a very serious matter, so they're being very careful,"
said a source with direct knowledge of the situation speaking on
the condition of anonymity told Reuters.
The Gavilon deal, which includes debt of around $2 billion,
would propel Marubeni, Japan's fifth-biggest trading house, into
the top standings of global grain merchants and places it in a
strong position to take advantage of rising demand for grains
The purchase of Gavilon may close as early as the end of
April, the source said, adding that the transaction was not in
danger of being cancelled.
Marubeni officials declined to comment and there was no
response to a faxed request for comment from the Commerce
Ministry on its review of Marubeni's purchase.
The deal, announced nearly a year ago, had been originally
scheduled to close in September but was pushed back to
end-November/early December before suffering more delays due to
Marubeni Chief Financial Officer Yukihiko Matsumura said in
February the company expected Chinese approval by the end of
March, the close of the company's financial year.
Officials have downplayed media speculation that tension
between Japan and China over disputed islands in the East China
Sea has delayed Chinese approval.
Foreign companies often complain privately about extended
reviews in China's merger approval process.
Another Glencore purchase, that of Canadian grain handler
Viterra, was approved by Chinese regulators in December, nearly
nine months after the deal was first announced.
China has also imposed conditions like price and supply
conditions in many cases, but has only blocked one deal since
anti-monopoly laws came into force in 2008. That was Coca-Cola's
attempt to purchase juice maker Huiyuan in 2009.
Senior Chinese officials, including Vice Premier Ma Kai,
have said China will improve the regulatory system governing
mergers and acquisitions by foreign companies as well as the
mechanism for anti-monopoly assessment of foreign investment.
Glencore has been waiting for several months for China, the
biggest buyer of the materials it trades and mines, to give the
go-ahead before it can complete purchase of miner Xstrata, the
largest deal in the sector to date.
Glencore said on Tuesday it had held constructive
discussions with China's Commerce Ministry but that it had
pushed the deadline date back to May 2 because it did not expect
to have final approval in time for its previous deadline of