BEIJING, CHINA — Following news reports from Reuters that COFCO Corp. is in talks to buy Noble Group Ltd.’s agribusiness arm, Noble announced on March 4 that is engaged in discussions with a consortium in relation to a potential joint venture.

Noble said no binding arrangements have yet been entered into, and it did not specifically name COFCO as the consortium.

Reuters, quoting people familiar with the matter, said the deal would value Noble’s agribusiness division at around $1 billion. The news agency said that buying into the Noble unit would help China develop a powerful agricultural trading house. 

On Feb. 28, COFCO announced that is buying a 51% stake in Dutch grain trader Nidera.

Noble shares jumped as much as 8.6% to S$1.075, the highest since Jan. 2 after the Reuters story, adding around $450 million in market value. 

Noble's grains and oilseeds operations focus on South America, Europe and Asia. It operates three oil seed processing factories in Asia, and supplies grains, oilseeds, vegetable oil and by-products throughout the region from Singapore.