May 20, 2020 / 4:07 PM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-Bunge's Brazil unit signs contract to acquire two soy plants from Imcopa

(Adds Imcopa statement, context)

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, May 20 (Reuters) - Bunge’s Brazil unit has signed a contract to acquire two soy crushing plants from Imcopa, according to a statement sent to Reuters on Wednesday, marking another step to consolidate its position as Brazil’s largest soybean crusher.

Imcopa, which is operating under bankruptcy court protection, confirmed the signing of the contract and said the aim of the sale is to keep the plants running and protect jobs, according to a separate statement.

Bunge said regulatory approvals for the transaction are still pending.

The signing of the contract comes about a month after a court injunction blocked the sale of the two plants that last year processed about 1 million tonnes of soybeans.

Bunge agreed in February to bid a combined 50 million reais ($9.16 million) for the plants.

The offer, made under an Imcopa reorganization plan approved by creditors in 2017, also entailed assumption by Bunge of around 1 billion reais of debt related to the assets.

Paraná, where the plants are located, accounts for almost 19% of Brazil’s oilseeds processing capacity, according to oilseeds crusher group Abiove.

Bunge owns most of Brazil’s oilseeds crushing and refining facilities, with 12, followed by Cargill with eight, Abiove data from 2018 show.

One of Imcopa’s plants is 100 km (60 miles) from a key port and produces soy protein concentrate used to make livestock feed.

Bunge has said there are synergies for one buyer to run both units. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Chris Reese)

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