May 11, 2018 / 3:24 PM / 4 months ago

Louis Dreyfus completes $466 million sale of metals unit to Chinese fund

PARIS (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus Company said on Friday it had completed the sale of its metals business to a Chinese investment fund for $466 million (344 million pounds), as part of a push to revive profits by focusing on its core agricultural markets.

Louis Dreyfus announced in December an agreement to sell LDC Metals to NCCL Natural Resources Investment Fund, without disclosing financial details.

The metals business is one of the largest copper, zinc and lead concentrates merchants worldwide, according to Louis Dreyfus, and has been one of the group’s most profitable activities in recent years.

A new name for the business would be announced soon, Paul Akroyd, chief executive of LDC Metals, said in a statement issued by Louis Dreyfus.

The divestment of LDC Metals attracted interest from several potential buyers including mining giant Anglo American (AAL.L), sources said last year.

The sale price of $466 million compares with a book value of $314 million as of 2016, according to company filings.

Excluding the metals unit, Louis Dreyfus’ annual results showed underlying profits steadied in 2017 after two years of decline but net profit from continuing operations fell to $224 million from $266 million in 2016.

NCCL Natural Resources Investment Fund is managed by New China Capital Legend as general partner and has AXAM Asset Management and China Molybdenum Co., Ltd (603993.SS) as limited partners.

China Molybdenum is one of China’s largest producers of molybdenum, a mineral used in metal alloys, and it announced last November plans to set up a natural resources fund worth $1 billion with New China Capital Legend.

Louis Dreyfus has also sold part of its fertiliser operations and is looking for partners to invest in its juice and dairy activities, as it bets on a closer focus on core markets like grains and oilseeds.

The 167-year-old family firm, controlled by Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, is the “D” of the so-called ABCD quartet of global agricultural commodity traders alongside Archer Daniels Midland (ADM.N), Bunge (BG.N) and Cargill.

The global firms have been reorganising operations in response to declining profits in traditional grain trading after several years of ample supply of staple crops.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mark Potter

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