May 15, 2018 / 5:13 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Bunge files to list Brazilian sugar and ethanol business

(Adds more details on the IPO, confirmation from Brazil's CVM, industry context)

SÃO PAULO, May 15 (Reuters) - Global commodities trader Bunge Ltd has filed for a potential public offering of its sugar and ethanol unit in Brazil, Bunge Açúcar & Bionergia SA, with the Brazilian Securities Commission, the company said on Tuesday.

The U.S. headquartered company said it recently obtained debt financing for the unit, which it has prepared to operate as a stand-alone company.

Bunge said it plans to keep a controlling stake in the company after the IPO, "enabling it to participate in future value creation driven by the stand-alone company's growth and cyclical improvement in global sugar market conditions".

The global sugar market is facing challenging times due to a supply glut that has pushed raw sugar prices to the lowest levels in two and a half years.

Many sugar companies in Brazil are facing low profit margins and high debt.

Bunge has tried to sell its eight Brazilian sugar and ethanol plants for four years, but a separate sale process has failed to attract firm interest from strategic or financial investors.

On May 8, people familiar with the matter told Reuters that the company had hired banks to prepare for a listing in Brazil.

Most of Bunge's mills in Brazil are located in the northern part of Sao Paulo state and in the south of Minas Gerais state. The company has capacity to process around 22 million tonnes of cane per year.

Bunge entered the sugar and ethanol sector in Brazil in 2010, when it bought the holding Moema Participações, which controlled the then six mills.

Brazil's market regulator CVM confirmed Bunge's listing request. The IPO prospectus is not yet available.

Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru, Marcelo Teixeira and Tatiana Bautzer in Sao Paulo; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Susan Thomas

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