Cargill sells stake in Alvean to Copersucar, leaves sugar trading

SAO PAULO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cargill said on Tuesday it is leaving the global sugar trading business after agreeing to sell its 50% stake in the joint venture Alvean, the world’s largest sugar trader, to Brazil’s Copersucar.

Copersucar and Cargill said they reached an agreement to end their partnership at Alvean, with the Brazilian company becoming the sole shareholder of the company, which moves around 12 million tonnes of sugar per year, or around 20% of the global trade of the sweetener.

The companies declined to reveal financial terms of the deal, which depends on approval by Brazilian antitrust agency CADE.

Alvean was formed in 2014 when Cargill and Copersucar announced a plan to combine their global sugar trading operations.

Cargill said Alvean’s stake sale was part of a portfolio review.

The company said it plans to focus in its core food and agriculture businesses, but added that it will remain active in certain commodities trading and will continue to supply sugar ingredients to clients using existing operations in Brazil, Mexico and the United States.

A Copersucar source, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak about the deal, said the company is open to evaluate opportunities to add a new partner in Alvean in the future.

“We are fine with the idea of managing Alvean alone, but we will not put away the possibility of a strategic partnership that could strengthen the business, that could give it more efficiency,” the source said.

It said, however, that are no talks currently with any parties about that possibility.

Copersucar is responsible for selling sugar and ethanol produced by dozens of associated mills in Brazil. The company also controls U.S.-based ethanol trader and distributor Eco-Energy.

Reporting by Roberto Samora and Marcelo Teixeira; editing by Jonathan Oatis