January 28, 2019 / 2:47 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Margarita Louis-Dreyfus seals share buyout at commodity trader

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PARIS, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Margarita Louis-Dreyfus has completed a purchase of minority shares in agricultural commodity trader Louis Dreyfus Company, ending a long-running tussle with other family members.

The buyout was completed on Jan. 25 and increased the stake of Margarita Louis-Dreyfus’ Akira trust to 96.2 percent of Louis Dreyfus Company Holdings B.V., she said in a statement.

“With a stable ownership structure in place, a clear strategy for our next growth phase and a strong management team, we are well positioned to write our next chapter and fulfill our purpose to create fair and sustainable value for the long term,” she said.

Financial terms of the buyout were not disclosed.

Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who chairs Louis Dreyfus’ holding firm, announced in November she had secured financing for the share purchase, with a spokeswoman indicating it consisted of a bank loan.

Minority family shareholders asked in 2015 to sell a 16.6 percent stake to Margarita Louis-Dreyfus’ Akira trust in a buyout estimated at $800-$900 million.

Disagreement over the valuation of the stake brought the parties to court before they agreed to go to arbitration.

The obligation to purchase the shares, under a long-term arrangement established by Margarita Louis-Dreyfus’ husband Robert before his death in 2009, had increased financial pressure on the chairwoman as it coincided with a period of lower group profits and financial trouble at its Brazilian sugar subsidiary Biosev.

The family holding vehicle controls about 90 percent of the Louis Dreyfus operating company, with the rest owned by staff.

Like other agricultural traders, Louis Dreyfus has sought to overcome declining margins for traditional buying and selling of crops by restructuring its activities.

After selling its metal trading business last year, it plans to exit the dairy sector by the middle of this year.

LDC’s announcement in September of the departure of both its chief executive and finance chief added to rumours about instability at the firm.

New CEO Ian McIntosh, however, has said the group’s performance improved during the second half, helped by healthy margins in soybeans. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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