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Marubeni buying grains company for about US$3.6b

Published:Wednesday | May 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Japan's Marubeni Corp is buying Nebraska-based grains company Gavilon Holdings LLC for about $3.6 billion in a move to capitalise on rising demand in developing nations for grain and fertiliser.

The privately-held Gavilon owns and runs a grains, fertiliser and energy-commodities distribution and storage network.

Marubeni buys and distributes various industrial and consumer goods and grains.

Marubeni said Tuesday that the acquisition will give it access to more than 140 grain-loading sites, a large grain storage and distribution network in the US, and sites in regions including Brazil, Australia and the Ukraine.

Surging global demand

It will also give Marubeni the ability to tap into Omaha-based Gavilon's fertiliser terminals and storage and blending facilities in 59 US locations.

Marubeni said this acquisition will help it take advantage of surging global demand for grain and fertiliser as developing nations grow.

Once the deal is complete, Marubeni said it expects to be able to handle 55 million tons of grain annually.

Gavilon was created in 2008 when ConAgra Foods sold its commodity trading and grain-storage operations to the Ospraie Special Opportunities fund.

The private investors paid US$1.6 billion in cash and agreed to give ConAgra US$525 million in debt securities in the deal.

Since 2008, Gavilon's owners have expanded its grain-storage network through acquisitions and construction. It now has about 2,000 employees worldwide.

Gavilon president and CEO, Greg Heckman, said he expects his company to fit well within Marubeni, and he doesn't expect many changes to Gavilon's operations.

"As part of a larger trading organisation, Gavilon will be well-positioned to more efficiently connect supply with growing global demand," Heckman said in a statement.

Besides its grain and fertiliser units, Gavilon also runs an energy-trading business that deals in crude oil and natural gas. Its network can store 8 million barrels of crude oil, 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 500,000 barrels of refined fuels.

- AP