Russian state-controlled grain trader looks to sell grain to Egypt

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian state-controlled grain trader United Grain Company (UGC) is looking to expand grain exports by selling to Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer and the largest buyer of Russian wheat, it said on Wednesday.

Egypt’s state-run General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) held a wheat purchase tender on Tuesday, which showed a newcomer - Grain Export SA - among its participants.

Grain Export SA is a Swiss trading firm, part of the UGC group, UGC told Reuters when asked if the two were affiliated. It is registered in the GASC supplier list, it added.

“Since August this year, the company has been actively participating in tenders as part of the development of export sales. The Egyptian market is one of the priority markets,” UGC said in a statement to Reuters.

It did not provide further details about its plans to expand grain exports. Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter.

Grain Export SA participated but did not win GASC’s tender on Tuesday. GASC bought 230,000 tonnes of Russian wheat (from Posco and Garant Logistics), 60,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat and 60,000 tonnes of French wheat for shipment over Oct. 1-10.

UGC exported about 1.1 million tonnes of wheat in the 2018/19 marketing season, which ended on June 30, according to analysts’ estimates. It was only a fraction of Russia’s total wheat exports for the season, which totaled 35.2 million tonnes.

The state-controlled company’s appetite for grain exports expansion has been limited in recent years since its main role is organizing domestic purchases and sales from the government grain stockpile, though it does buy some grain in the domestic market for exports.

VTB Bank, Russia’s second largest lender which has been expanding in grain exports, owns a stake of 50% less one share in UGC but is building its own export arm after buying major local grain trader Mirogroup in August.

Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Deepa Babington