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Petra’s Cocoa Plants Operating Before Barry Callebaut Deal

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May 9 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore-based Petra Foods Ltd. said its cocoa processing plants are still operating before a proposed acquisition by Barry Callebaut AG, the world’s biggest maker of bulk chocolate and a supplier to Nestle SA.

Business is being conducted “as usual right up to the expected completion of the transaction in June or July 2013,” Wrisney Tan, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News about the status of its cocoa grinding plants. The company said it was unable to make further comments about the transaction.

Cocoa processing in Asia fell 11 percent in the first three months of the year to 140,062 metric tons, the lowest in at least nine quarters, according to the Cocoa Association of Asia. That prompted speculation some factories in the region had slowed down processing or temporarily closed.

Delfi Cocoa (Europe) GmbH, owned by Petra Foods, is operating its plant in Hamburg “closer to full capacity,” Karel Menu, the company’s managing director, said in an e-mailed response to questions by Bloomberg News yesterday. The plant had slowed processing in the second half of last year.

Barry Callebaut agreed to buy Petra Foods’s cocoa ingredients unit in December for $950 million. The sale will include seven factories in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and France and sales offices in Singapore, Netherlands and the U.S.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at ialmeida3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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