Glencore sells agri unit stake for $2.5 billion to Canadian pension fund

Wed Apr 6, 2016 2:33pm EDT
 
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By Dmitry Zhdannikov

LONDON (Reuters) - Commodity miner and trader Glencore GLEN.L has agreed to sell 40 percent of its agricultural unit to Canada's state pension fund for $2.5 billion, the company's latest step to cut debt and soothe investor concerns about the impact of weak commodity prices.

The sale values the agricultural unit as a whole at close to the initially expected $10 billion, including $0.6 billion in debt and $2.5 billion in inventories, and comes after Glencore said last month it was stepping up its debt reduction plan by unloading more assets.

The group said it aimed to cut net debt to between $17 billion and $18 billion by the end of 2016, $1 billion more than previously planned and down from a peak of $30 billion last year.

The purchase is by the pension fund's investment unit, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which seeks long-term low-risk investments.

"Glencore Agri complements our existing portfolio of agriculture assets, bringing global exposure, scale and diversification," CPPIB's global head of private investments, Mark Jenkins, said in a statement

Glencore's stock had collapsed to below 70 pence at the end of last year, a fraction of its peak of 556 pence following its 2011 flotation, due to investor worries over its heavy debts coupled with slumping copper and coal prices.

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The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured in front of the company's headquarters in Baar, Switzerland, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann