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Bunge Invests in Cobalt, Plans Brazil Sugar-Cane Chemical Plant

Bunge Ltd (BG), the world’s second- largest oilseed processor, has invested in Cobalt Technologies Inc. and may install the biotechnology company’s equipment at one of its Brazil sugar-cane mills to boost returns.

Bunge Global Innovation LLC has joined Cobalt’s series E preferred stock round, Mountain View, California-based Cobalt Technologies said today in a statement without disclosing the size of the investment.

Cobalt has developed technology that produces n-butanol, a four-carbon alcohol used in products like paints and lacquers with a global market worth more than $5 billion. Several other sugar-cane producers in Brazil including Sao Martinho SA (SMTO3) have teamed up with biotechnology companies to turn crops into specialty chemicals that achieve higher margins than ethanol fuel.

“Cobalt’s promising technology presents the opportunity to leverage Bunge’s sugar-cane processing assets to produce new high-value products that diversify our revenue streams and enhance returns,” Ben Pearcy, Bunge’s managing director, sugar & bioenergy and chief development officer, said in the statement.

The two companies are already working with specialty chemical maker Rhodia SA to produce n-butanol from sugar-cane waste at a pilot plant in Campinas, Brazil, according to the statement.

Bunge, based in White Plains, New York, is developing a plant with Solazyme Inc. (SZYM) that will turn cane into 100,000 tons of oils a year that may be processed into detergents, according to Bunge’s website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephan Nielsen in Sao Paulo at snielsen8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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