GrainCorp sells entire 8.7-million-share stake in AWB

by Emily Buckley
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Australian bulk commodities handler GrainCorp Ltd. has sold its entire stake of 8.7 million shares in Australia’s monopoly wheat exporter and largest domestic grain trader, AWB Ltd.

GrainCorp said its investment in AWB had ceased to be a strategic one as GrainCorp diversified.

"Our move into primary processing through the purchase of Allied Mills in partnership with Cargill Australia has provided us with an excellent avenue for supply chain growth and earnings diversification," said Tom Keene, GrainCorp managing director.

GrainCorp did not disclose the price at which it sold the shares, but said it had made a profit. The company said it would continue to investigate expansion opportunities of its core business.

GrainCorp and U.S. commodities giant, Cargill, Inc. picked up Goodman Fielder Ltd.’s Australian flour milling and mixing business for A$200 million (U.S.$117 million) in August 2002, beating several bidders, including AWB.

The joint venture supplies flour-based products to Goodman Fielder, Australia’s nation’s largest food company.