SAO PAULO (Reuters) - CHS Inc, the biggest U.S. agricultural cooperative, is among the largest creditors of Brazilian commodities trader Seara Ind e Com de Produtos Agropecuários Ltda, which filed for bankruptcy protection last week, two sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Friday.
CHS confirmed it was a creditor of Seara Ind e Com but declined to give specifics.
The two sources, who asked for anonymity since the exact numbers are not public, estimated CHS credits with Seara - not to be mistaken with Brazilian meatpacker JBS’s processed foods unit Seara SA - to be around $200 million.
Seara Ind e Com filed for bankruptcy protection last week asking to restructure 2.1 billion reais ($662 million) in debt.
Seara manages farms, provides rail and road transportation for grains and trades soybeans and corn produced by farmers or delivered by cooperatives in four Brazilian states.
The company is headquartered in Sertanópolis, a small town close to Londrina, the second-largest city in Brazil’s agricultural powerhouse state of Parana.
CHS, which has headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, said in a statement to Reuters that it “maintained a grain origination relationship with Seara for several years” but was surprised by the company’s decision to seek court protection against creditors.
“CHS Brazil and CHS Inc. leadership are actively managing the situation to understand and respond to any potential impact to our business and our employees,” it said.
CHS said it expects “shipments of products to arrive as scheduled and that would remain in contact with customers regarding product orders and shipments,” it said.
International commodities traders in Brazil usually maintain business relationships with regional commodities companies aiming to source grains volumes destined for export markets.
In a statement last week, when it filed for bankruptcy protection in the regional court in Londrina, Seara said Brazil’s economic crisis, particularly tight credit markets, had sharply undermined its ability to maintain operations.
($1 = 3.1718 reais)
Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Bill Trott