UPDATE 1-Brazil's watchdog passes Raízen, Wilmar sugar joint venture
(Adds Sucden opposition to deal)
SAO PAULO, March 17 (Reuters) - Brazilian antitrust watchdog Cade approved a joint venture formed by sugar and ethanol producer Raízen Energia SA and trader Wilmar International Ltd to export sugar, according to the government's official gazette on Thursday.
Cade approved the deal with no restrictions despite opposition from sugar trader Sucden, which said it would put 90 percent of the trade in very high polarization (VHP) sugar, the type commonly exported to refiners overseas, in the hands of just two players.
Raízen itself resulted from a joint venture between Cosan SA Industria e Comercio, Brazil's largest producer of sugar and ethanol, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
The new venture with Wilmar will be responsible for negotiating all export deals involving Raízen's sugar.
The deal is similar to one done between Cargill and Copersucar, Brazil's largest sugar cooperative, which was named Alvean.
Sucden argued that Alvean already controls around 65 percent of Brazil's export sugar trade and said the new Raízen-Wilmar company would leave too little for other market players.
Cade said the volume that would be handled by the new joint venture, compared to the total volume exported by Brazil's center-south region, precluded a position of market dominance.
(Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Silvio Cascione and Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Tom Brown)
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