(Recasts with details of the IPO; adds Bunge CEO and CFO comments, background)
SAO PAULO, May 16 (Reuters) - Global commodities trader Bunge Ltd plans to sell part of its stake in its wholly owned Brazilian sugar and ethanol subsidiary in an initial public offering, it said in regulatory filing.
The transaction will be comprised only of a secondary offering, in which the controlling shareholder sells part of its stake, according to the preliminary prospectus filed on Tuesday with Brazilian securities industry regulator CVM.
The subsidiary, Bunge Açúcar & Bioenergia SA, will not issue any new shares.
Bunge said on Tuesday it had filed with the securities regulator for a potential IPO and would maintain a controlling stake after an offering, a week after Reuters reported the hiring of banks to manage the transaction.
The sugar and ethanol unit posted a first-quarter loss of 112 million reais ($30 million), compared with a loss of 62 million reais a year earlier, according to the preliminary prospectus. It had net debt of 2.9 billion reais at the end of March, around two times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
The prospectus gave no details on pricing and timing for the sale of shares, or what Bunge's stake would be after the transaction.
Bunge's chief executive officer, Soren Schroder, said at an investor event in New York earlier on Wednesday that an IPO would allow the Brazilian sugar milling unit to "stand on its own two feet."
The company has been looking to sell the beleaguered sugar assets since 2013, but because of a downturn in the sector and the high price at which Bunge scooped up the mills, no deal has emerged.
Raw sugar prices are languishing at multi-year lows as huge global supplies of the sweetener outpace demand.
Bunge's chief financial officer, Thomas Boehlert, also speaking at the event in New York, noted Tuesday's filing for a potential IPO and said the company plans to keep a majority stake in the unit in the short term. "So we would maintain a majority ownership and participate in the company, and potentially exit altogether down the road," he said. ($1 = 3.6802 reais) (Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Marcelo Teixeira in Sao Paulo, PJ Huffstutter in Chicago Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)