* COFCO has a 51 pct stake in Nidera
* Company aiming to expand global reach in food (Adds context, details, comments from Glencore)
By Megha Rajagopalan and Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, Nov 17 (Reuters) - China’s state-run grain trader COFCO does not plan to increase its 51 percent stake in Dutch grain giant Nidera, its chairman told Reuters on Tuesday.
In July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters that COFCO was in talks with Nidera about expanding its stake.
Asked if COFCO was planning to lift its stake, Chairman Ning Gaoning said: “No...Everything is stable.”
Nidera executives were not immediately available to comment.
Ning was speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Manila.
Asked if COFCO was interested in buying miner and commodities trader Glencore’s agricultural assets, Ning said: “It’s not really in the market. They’re not selling.”
A Glencore spokesperson, however, said the sale process of a minority stake in the agricultural business was “progressing well”. “We plan to update the market at our investor call on 10 December,” they added.
In October, sources with knowledge of the matter had also told Reuters that Glencore was in talks with COFCO, along with a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund and Canadian pension funds, to sell a stake in its agricultural assets.
In just over a year, COFCO has invested $2.8 billion to transform itself from a procurement operation into a global agricultural trader, via joint ventures with Noble Group Ltd’s agribusiness and Nidera, in which it has stakes.
The company is widely viewed as the best-informed trader in China’s grain and oilseed markets, the world’s largest and fastest growing.
COFCO has also diversified into downstream activities such as milling, soybean crushing and pig breeding. It has also expanded into branded foodstuffs and markets products such as its own wine, chocolate and edible oils.
“The majority of our investments go to the efforts to expand our global reach in production of grain and other foodstuffs,” Ning said. “We are going to establish a fully integrated industrial chain linking production, consumption, logistics, branding and processing.”
Ning has previously said that COFCO was planning to list within three to five years, a move that would catapult it into the select stable of firms dominating global agricultural trade. (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. and Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Miral Fahmy)