* Says bankruptcy effective Nov. 24
* Firm still looking at some solutions
* Traders await response from curators
* May be knock-on effect on grains markets - traders
(Adds lawyer comment)
By Catherine Hornby
AMSTERDAM, Nov 24 Financially troubled Dutch
commodities trader Schouten Ceralco said on Tuesday it had filed
for bankruptcy, raising concerns about possible glitches in
European grains markets.
Schouten Ceralco, a grains and compound feeds trader which
has been doing business since 1893, said in a statement the
bankruptcy would be effective as of Tuesday after it made the
filing with a Dutch court.
"During the last few weeks, Schouten Ceralco has explored
several possibilities to continue its activities as a trading
company in agricultural products," the firm said in the
statement. "Unfortunately, this has not led to a positive
A spokesman for the company said it was still working on
some solutions, and hoped to be able to give a further update
within a week or two.
"It's up to the (bankruptcy) curators what happens now,
whether the running contracts will be executed or not. If they
won't be executed, people need to buy additional material," said
a broker in Belgium.
German traders said they did not expect supply gaps from the
Schouten insolvency but there was concern about the processing
of past trades involving the company.
"There are often string trades involving a series of sales
between several companies and if one participant pulls out the
entire trade will be stopped," one trader said.
"These trades can involve delivery in several months' time.
We might not have a clear picture for some time."
Schouten Ceralco was involved in wheat and feed grain
trading in several countries including Germany and the Benelux
region, acting as a broker between consumers and small traders
in country areas.
It traded about 2 million tonnes of cereals each season,
mainly in the EU but also in the Black Sea region, according to
a source familiar with the company.
Market players said that talk about Schouten Ceralco facing
financial difficulties had led to position adjustments in recent
"Those who had sold to Schouten went to sell somewhere else,
and those who were buyers went to buy somewhere else, and this
has led to a boost in activity," a cash cereals broker told
"The only thing left for these clients is to buy
handkerchiefs. There is not a great deal they will get back. One
cannot shave a bald man," the broker added.
In Dutch law, if a company files for bankruptcy a court will
appoint a liquidator whose duty is to sell off all the assets
and distribute the proceeds among creditors, said Rob Abendroth,
a lawyer for Allen & Overy in Amsterdam.
"This is when the curtain drops. The liquidator steps into
the shoes of management," Abendroth said.
Schouten Ceralco is a unit of Royal Schouten Group, which
also has a vegetable oils refinery and other food, feed and
bioenergy production divisions.
"The bankruptcy is only for Schouten Ceralco, but there are
several other (Schouten units) so the question is what will
happen with the others," said the broker in Belgium.
Traders have also said that the Romij vegetable oils
refinery in Rotterdam, another unit of Royal Schouten, is
closing operations. No one was immediately available to comment
at the refinery on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger in Amsterdam,
Valerie Parent in Paris and Michael Hogan in Hamburg, editing by
John Stonestreet and Jon Loades-Carter)
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