WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK, U.S. – Bunge Limited on July 22 announced an agreement with BP plc to form a 50-50 joint venture, called BP Bunge Bioenergia, that will create a bioenergy company in Brazil, one of the world’s largest fast-growing markets for biofuels.
Bunge will receive cash proceeds of $775 million in the transaction, comprising $700 million in respect of non-recourse Bunge debt to be assumed by the joint venture at closing, and $75 million from BP, subject to customary closing adjustments. Bunge said the proceeds will be used to reduce outstanding indebtedness under the company’s credit facilities, resulting in a stronger balance sheet and greater financial flexibility.
The deal progresses Bunge’s strategy to optimize its portfolio.
“This partnership with BP represents a major portfolio optimization milestone for Bunge which allows us to reduce our current exposure to sugar milling, strengthen our balance sheet and focus on our core businesses,” said Gregory A. Heckman, Bunge’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have a strong, committed partner in BP, as well as flexibility in the medium and long term for further monetization, with full exit potential via an IPO or other strategic route.”
The joint venture will operate on a stand-alone basis, with a total of 11 mills located across the Southeast, North and Midwest regions of Brazil. With 32 million tonnes of combined crushing capacity per year, the joint venture will have the flexibility to produce a mix of ethanol and sugar. It will also generate renewable electricity – fueled by waste biomass from the sugar cane – through its cogeneration facilities to power all its sites and sell surplus electricity to the Brazilian power grid.
BP and Bunge’s assets are largely complementary, with sites in five Brazilian states including three in the key region of São Paulo. The combined business will be ranked the second largest player in the industry in Brazil by effective crushing capacity.
"Biofuels have a key role to play in the energy transition and Brazil is leading the way by developing this industry at scale,” said Dev Sanyal, chief executive of BP Alternative Energy. “In one step, this agreement will allow BP to significantly grow the size, efficiency and flexibility of our biofuels business in one of the world's major growth markets. With our shared commitment to safety and sustainability, the combination of BP and Bunge’s assets and expertise will allow us to improve performance, develop options for growth and generate real value. BP Bunge Bioenergia will be well-placed to play a significant part in meeting Brazil’s growing demand for both biofuels and biopower.”
Following completion, the aim is for BP Bunge Bioenergia to generate significant operational and financial synergies, including through scale efficiencies and by applying best practices, optimized technologies and operational capabilities across all the assets of the new business, the companies said.
The new business is expected to be headquartered in Sao Paulo. BP’s Mario Lindenhayn will be executive chairman and Bunge’s Geovane Consul will be chief executive officer. BP and Bunge will have equal representation on the Board of Directors.
The transaction has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of Bunge. Closing of the transaction is expected in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to customary conditions,
including receipt of required regulatory approvals.