Barely two months after acquiring a majority stake in French oil processor Cereol, US company Bunge said this week that its new unit has sold French cooking oil company Lesieur to an oilseed crushing and refining joint venture - of which Cereol owns a slice.
Cereol has signed an agreement with Sofiprotéol to sell its 100 per cent stake in its subsidiary Cereol Participations, the owners of Lesieur, to the Saipol company for €181 million in cash. The move is designed to reduce its debt load, Cereol reports this week.
Sofiprotéol is the financial arm of the French vegetable oils and proteins industry. Saipol, a joint venture between Cereol and Sofiprotéol, is a major French player in oilseeds crushing and refining. According to a statement this week from Cereol, the transaction takes place within a strategy to reinforce the existing partnership between Cereol and Sofiprotéol and to develop the French oilseed sector.
In 2001, Lesieur's consolidated net sales reached €703.9 million and its consolidated EBITDA (operating income before depreciation and provisions) €31.3 million.
The transaction, awaiting clearance from the EU Anti-Trust Authority, should be effective in early 2003.