BEIJING, CHINA — COFCO International Limited, subsidiary of COFCO Corp., announced on March 3 that it has completed the purchase of Noble Agri Limited. The company has been renamed COFCO Agri Ltd.
The agreement, in which COFCO acquired the 49% stake of Noble Agri held by Noble Group for $750 million, was first announced on Dec. 22, 2015. In January, the agreement received 90% approval from total votes cast by Noble shareholders.
Prior to the sale of COFCO’s 49% stake, Noble Agri was a joint venture between Noble Group and a consortium consisting of COFCO, HOPU Investment and other international financial investors.
Noble had been under pressure to raise cash to avoid losing its investment grade rating and being dropped to junk bond status. Noble Group’s Corporate & Others segment, which included Noble Agri Limited, reported on Nov. 13, 2015, a loss of $60.7 million compared to a $193.2 million profit in the same period of last year.
Noble Group’s shares have fallen more than 60% in the past year, and last week the company recorded its first full-year net loss in nearly 20 years after recording a large writedown on commodity contracts that have been at the center of criticisms of its accounting.
“The closing of the acquisition marks a major milestone,” said Matt Jensen, chief executive officer of COFCO Argri Ltd. “We are going to make COFCO Agri a trusted brand in the global agribusiness industry.”
Patrick Yu, president of COFCO Corp., said, “COFCO Agri is moving rapidly to take its place as a multi-flag world-class global agri-business. Performance across all business units has improved dramatically since June of last year, and we expect to see further improvement in 2016.”
COFCO Agri will serve as the principal international origination platform for COFCO, engaging in agricultural trading and processing businesses. It originates product from surplus producing regions such as South America, South Africa, East Europe, North America and Australia, to supply regions with high demand such as China, Asia and the Middle East.
The company owns and operates logistics and processing assets in strategic locations within key global trade flows. COFCO Agri had sales of $16.9 billion last year, and delivered 47 million tonnes of products globally, with 45 asset locations and 9,500 employees in 29 countries.