December 7, 2018 / 9:47 PM / 12 days ago

Green Plains lays off workers amid weak margins and restructuring

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Green Plains Inc, the nation's 4th largest ethanol producer, laid off workers this week in order to reduce the size of the company after it sold some assets at a time of weak profits in the biofuel industry.

* "With the reduction of assets as a result of recently completed transactions, we needed to right size the organization moving forward...The layoffs are not the result of the weak margin environment, but more a result of what is the right number of employees to run the business," Jim Stark, a company spokesman, said in an email on Friday.

* Stark did not say how many employees were laid off, but two market sources familiar with the company's move said it was roughly 40 people.

* Green Plains permanently shuttered a Virginia production plant last month and cut output at several other facilities as it tries to navigate a supply glut that has pummeled biofuel profits.

* The company recently sold three ethanol plants to Valero Energy Corp and a vinegar business to help pay down debt.

* The austere measures come as ethanol prices have hit multi-year lows on flat domestic demand and a trade war with China that has left a major buyer of excess production on the sidelines. (Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw)

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