Brazilian Soybean Trader Hires Morgan Stanley to Sell Stake

  • Family owners consider selling controlling stake in Caramuru
  • Company is seeking new equity to fund expansion projects

Top Brazilian soybean trader and processor Caramuru Alimentos SA hired Morgan Stanley to raise new equity, becoming the latest agricultural company in the country to seek outside investment amid tough operating conditions.

Caramuru is considering selling a controlling stake to help fund expansion projects, said Cesar Borges Sousa, a vice president and member of the family that owns the company. Talks are still in their early stages, he said Wednesday by phone from Sao Paulo.

"We are looking for new opportunities," Sousa said. "We still don’t have any clarity on the size or the value of the stake we may sell."

Itumbiara, Goias-based Caramuru operates 73 warehouses in Brazil’s south and center-west regions, has port terminals in Santos and Vitoria, and exports about 3 million metric tons a year of grain and oilseed. The closely held company’s sales were 4 billion reais ($1.1 billion) last year, according to Sousa.

A deal involving Caramuru would be just the latest transaction in the Brazilian agriculture industry, which is grappling with the weak real and surging borrowing costs. China’s Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming Co Ltd. earlier this month agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Brazilian trader and biodiesel maker Fiagril Ltda. Brazilian trader Amaggi Group along with Louis Dreyfus Co. hired HSBC Holdings Plc to sell part or all of their stake in a terminal at the port of Itaqui, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said last week.

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