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Sofiproteol, Bunge Take Full Control of European Biodiesel Units

Sofiproteol SA, France’s largest oilseed crusher, and Bunge Ltd. each took full control of biodiesel units of which they’d previously shared ownership through joint venture Diester Industrie International, or DII.

Sofiproteol bought the joint venture’s Belgian unit Oleon Biodiesel NV, while Bunge acquired biodiesel production units in Austria and another in Germany from DII, the Paris-based company wrote in an e-mailed statement today.

The joint venture’s biodiesel-production capacity will drop to 700,000 metric tons from 1 million tons, according to Sofiproteol. The French company owns 60 percent of the joint venture, with Bunge holding the remaining 40 percent.

“This is an industrial optimization,” Catherine Bozon, a spokeswoman for Sofiproteol, said by phone. “The idea is to reduce our exposure to biodiesel, which is a difficult market.” She declined to provide financial details.

Biodiesel is a transport fuel that can be produced from the oil content of crops including rapeseed and soybeans.

The biodiesel unit in Belgium is integrated with an industrial site owned by Sofiproteol, while Novaol Austria GmbH and Mannheim Bio Fuel GmbH in Germany are linked to Bunge oilseed-crushing sites, according to the French company.

DII will continue to own its Italian unit Novaol Srl as well as 50 percent of the Germany company Natural Energy West, Sofiproteol said.

Sofiproteol’s Diester Industry unit, created in 1992, has another 2 million tons of biodiesel-manufacturing capacity in addition to that of DII. The biodiesel unit had 2011 sales of 2.69 billion euros ($3.7 billion), according to Bozon.

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