Weekly Roundup: BASF closes Bayer seeds buy, ADM strengthens oilseeds processing position

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17 Aug 2018 --- In a busy week on the commodity front, BASF closed the acquisition of Bayer’s global vegetable seeds business, ADM reached an agreement to purchase certain assets of Brazil-based Algar Agro and IMCD reported positive results for the first half of 2018. Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) published its sixth annual Sustainability Report, outlining progress towards its ambitious targets for a sustainable future.

In brief: Business
Leading distributor of specialty chemicals and food ingredients IMCD N.V. has reported profit growth of 24 percent to €263.1 million (US$299 million) (+30% on a constant currency basis) in the first half of 2018. Operating EBITA increase of 24% to €105.2 million (+30% on a constant currency basis). Net result before amortization and non-recurring items increase of 28 percent to €74.2 million (+34% on a constant currency basis). Piet van der Slikke, CEO says: “It goes without saying that we are happy with the results over the first six months. We could optimally benefit from our strong business model combined with favorable economic conditions. The signing and closing of our acquisition of E.T. Horn (La Mirada, California) represents an important milestone in the execution of our North American strategy. We will work hard to create an organization in this region which will offer the best possible service to our suppliers and customers and great opportunities for our staff.”

US QSR business The Wendy’s Company has accepted an offer from Inspire Brands (Owner of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and R Taco) to sell its 12.3 percent ownership interest in the company back to Inspire Brands for $450 million. The agreement was approved by The Wendy’s Company Board of Directors and represents a 38 percent premium on the Wendy’s Company’s previous valuation of the investment. “The sale of our stake in Inspire Brands for US$450 million is a great return on this investment for our shareholders,” said Nelson Peltz, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Over the past seven years, Wendy’s and its shareholders have benefitted from more than US$100 million in distributions and the monetization of this investment carries a 38 percent premium over its most recent valuation.” The Company views this transaction as one that will provide the company with future flexibility to invest in the growth of the Wendy’s brand and Company and increase its share repurchase program. 

Hormel Foods and WholeStone Farms, have entered into a definitive agreement to sell the Hormel Foods Fremont, Neb., processing facility to WholeStone Farms, LLC. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in December 2018. 

BASF has closed the acquisition of Bayer’s global vegetable seeds business, mainly operating under the brand Nunhems. The transaction adds a well-recognized brand with a very successful business track record to BASF’s portfolio. The acquired vegetable seeds business comprises 24 crops and about 2,600 varieties. It also includes well-established, strong R&D and breeding systems with over 100 unique breeding programs in more than 15 crops. This closing completes BASF’s acquisition of a significant range of businesses and assets with combined 2017 sales of €2.2 billion, which Bayer offered to divest in the context of its takeover of Monsanto. The all-cash purchase price amounts to a total of €7.6 billion, subject to certain adjustments at closing.

ADM has reached an agreement to purchase certain assets of Brazil-based Algar Agro, including oilseeds processing facilities in Uberlândia in the state of Minas Gerais, and Porto Franco in Maranhão. “ADM is already the most diversified oilseeds processor in the world, and now we are once more expanding our capabilities to help meet growing global demand,” says Greg Morris, Senior Vice President and President of ADM’s Oilseeds business. “We’ve recently launched our new oilseeds joint venture with Cargill in Egypt, and we have completed several enhancements to our European and North American processing operations. With the addition of these new plants in Brazil, we are further enhancing and strengthening our global network at a time when both the near- and long-term outlook for global meal demand continues to be strong. We’re excited about this bolt-on acquisition, and about all of the actions we are taking to deliver on our strategic plan to enhance shareholder value.” 

In brief: Sustainability
Louis Dreyfus Company 
(LDC) has published its sixth annual Sustainability Report today, outlining progress towards its ambitious targets for a sustainable future and the importance of collaboration in meeting those targets, under the United Nations’ global Sustainable Development Goals. LDC engaged with several new partners last year, for example by joining the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to improve its reporting and thus identify and focus on key opportunities to boost sustainable practices. Because consumers around the world increasingly expect full traceability and certification processes, LDC also continues to work towards more sustainable and certified supply chains, for example in its palm operations, which reached more than 90 percent traceability to mill level, thanks notably to collaboration with The Forest Trust.

In brief: Product launches Click to Enlarge
Nestlé UK and Ireland has launched the KitKat Chunky Salted Caramel Fudge to its popular KitKat Chunky range, which is a combination of a crispy wafer with a salted caramel fudge flavored topping, covered in milk chocolate. The packaging has been inspired by a retro sweet shop design with turquoise stripes and imagery to take you back in time to your childhood memories, according to the company. The launch forms part of the brand’s strategy to excite consumers by rotating new flavors each year. Last year’s flavor variant, KitKat Chunky New York Cheesecake was repoortedly a hit among millennials with over 70 percent of them saying they would try it again, whilst in 2016 KitKat Chunky Cookie Dough was the No.1 chocolate singles launch, proving consumers love to try new flavors from the brand.

In brief: Appointments & retirements
Miles Hurrell will take over as the Fonterra Co-operative Group (FCG) interim Chief Executive with immediate effect. Hurrell is currently the Co-operative’s Chief Operating Officer, Farm Source – the unit responsible for working directly with the Co-operative’s farmer-owners. In that role, he is responsible for Fonterra’s global Co-operative farming strategy that includes farmer services and engagement, milk sourcing and the chain of 70 Farm Source rural retail stores throughout New Zealand. Hurrell first joined Fonterra in the year 2000. His 18 years’ experience in the dairy industry has spanned four continents, including roles in Europe, the US, Middle East, Africa and Russia.

The Hershey Company has announced that Patricia A. Little, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, intends to retire from the company in the spring of 2019. Little has served as the company's CFO since joining in 2015. The company has commenced a search for a CFO successor.

Many changes have been announced at the helm of Nordzucker. Lars Gorissen (46), Executive Board member since 2014 and its speaker since March 1, 2018, has been appointed CEO by the Supervisory Board of Nordzucker AG with immediate effect. Furthermore, the Supervisory Board appointed Alexander Bott (44) as the new CFO with effect from August 27, 2018. At an extraordinary Supervisory Board meeting in Braunschweig on August 16, 2018, Jochen Johannes Juister was elected as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Nordzucker AG and thus as the successor to Hans-Christian Koehler, who passed away at the beginning of July. “The European sugar industry is undergoing significant change. We have difficult times ahead of us. With Lars Gorissen at the helm of the Executive Board, Nordzucker is actively taking on the challenges posed by the liberalization of the European sugar market. I am delighted that an experienced manager with proven leadership qualities has joined us as the Executive Board member for Finance, in the form of Alexander Bott. Furthermore, he is bringing industry knowledge and international experience in the area of finance to the company,” emphasizes Jochen Johannes Juister, Chairman of Nordzucker AG’s Supervisory Board.

In brief: Other highlights
ADM
 has celebrated the opening of its new regional office and state-of-the-art flavor and ingredient creation, application, development and customer innovation center in Shanghai, China. The opening of the space was announced at a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new innovation center features a wide range of capabilities, including a food and flavor analytic lab; beverage and dairy applications labs and pilot plants; a bakery lab; a confectionery and personal care lab; a culinary kitchen; flavor creation labs; sensory evaluation facilities; and a customer innovation center. 

On the research front, Nick Caporaso has graduated with a raft of papers, prizes and posters under his belt after a hugely successful joint Ph.D. with food research company Campden BRI and the University of Nottingham. Caporaso’s Ph.D. developed food imaging techniques to measure the quality of wheat, cocoa and coffee. He has published seven papers in international peer-reviewed journals, delivered six presentations and presented three posters at national or international conferences. He was jointly supervised by Prof. Ian Fisk, professor of flavor chemistry in the Department of Food Sciences at the University of Nottingham, and Dr. Martin Whitworth, principal scientist in the Department of Production and Processing Research at Campden BRI. Caporaso is continuing his research at the University of Nottingham through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership.

By Elizabeth Green

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