Oil and Gas

Brazil's Amaggi buys Norwegian non-GMO grain firm

SAO PAULO, July 13 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Amaggi Exportacao e Importacao, the world’s largest soybean growing operation, said on Monday it bought a 51 percent equity stake in Norwegian non-GMO oilseed company Denofa to expand operations abroad.

Denofa has a 430,000-tonne-per-year soy crusher in Fredrikstad, Norway, and a rapeseed oil processor in Poland. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

The Brazilian company, which handles grains trading and soy crushing, set up a European division last year, with a first office in Rotterdam.

“This acquisition is in accordance with Amaggi’s strategical plan of increasing its non-GMO program,” the company said in a statement.

“The fact (Denofa) is based in Europe ... will help the (Amaggi) group to develop new markets and products for the Scandinavian countries.”

Eleven percent of Denofa shares were purchased from trading and investment company Norgrain, which remains as a shareholder in the firm, and 40 percent from Brazilian agricultural group Agrenco AGEN11.SA, which filed in Brazil this year for the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States.

Amaggi has been a top supplier of soybeans to Denofa for years.

Denofa said on its website it was the only soy crusher in Scandinavia producing soybean meal and oil, as well as lecithin, for the feed and food industry from non-GMO soy.

Amaggi, controlled by Blairo Maggi, the world’s top soy producer and the governor of Mato Grosso state, has 3,100 workers and a total soy crushing capacity of 2.4 million tonnes per year from three plants in Brazil.

In May, Amaggi entered into an agreement with Japanese trading giant Marubeni Corp. 8002.T to supply soy and other grains to Japan and China.

The privately owned Brazilian company had 206,000 hectares (509,000 acres) sowed with soy, corn and cotton in the 2008/09 season and expected to trade in up to 4 million tonnes of soy.

Brazil is the world’s second largest soy producer.

The move by the local soybean giant to increase its footprint abroad is in line with other large Brazilian companies with a strong export profile to internationalize and acquire foreign assets, such as beef processors JBS JBSS3.SA and Marfrig MRFG3.SA, iron ore miner Vale VALE5.SA, and state-run oil company Petrobras PETR4.SA. (Reporting by Inae Riveras; editing by Reese Ewing and Walter Bagley)