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Vanguarda Cuts Debt 31% in a Year on Biodiesel Unit Sales

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- Vanguarda Agro SA, the Brazilian farm company that is shedding biodiesel assets to focus on soybean and corn crops, cut debt 31 percent in a year after raising 158 million reais ($78 million) with the sales.

Net debt fell to 398.8 million reais at the end of May, from 579.4 million a year earlier, Sao Paulo-based Vanguarda said in an e-mailed statement on June 6.

The sale of two plants for 100 million reais to Oleoplan SA, a Brazilian biodiesel maker, was concluded on April 5, Vanguarda said. The company also raised 58 million reais with the sale of a unit to Camera Agroalimentos in October.

Vanguarda, which is shifting to soybeans and corn crops after five year of losses from biodiesel production, expects to make a profit for the first time this year, Chairman Salo Seibel said May 29. Vanguarda planted 287,732 hectares (711,001 acres) with soybeans, corn and cotton in the crop year that started Sept. 1, Seibel said.

Formerly known as Brasil Ecodiesel, the company merged with crop producer Vanguarda in September and adopted its name. The merger boosted debt to 617.3 million reais at the end of the third quarter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucia Kassai in Sao Paulo at lkassai@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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