Louis Dreyfus agrees to sell African fertilizer business to Helios

By wael Hussien

Louis Dreyfus Company, one of the four ‘ABCD’ trading giants, is to sell its African fertilizer business to private equity firm Helios Investment Partners. Helios will acquire 100% of Fertilizers and Inputs Holding B.V.; a distributor of fertilizers, crop protection products, seeds and industrial chemicals in West Africa.

The fertilizer company has annual sales of around $300 million although the price of the acquisition has not been disclosed.

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Dreyfus is part of the so-called 'ABCD' quartet of trading giants alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill that dominate global flows of agricultural commodities. Dreyfus had been looking for an outright buyer for its African fertilizer arm for over a year, as it seeks partners for its fertilizer concerns in other regions. The sell-off is set against an economic backdrop of lower profit margins crimped by large crop inventories, low prices and limited volatility, which has triggered the restructuring efforts, as Dreyfus focuses more on core activities like grains and oilseeds.

There is also speculation that Russian-born Margarita Louis-Dreyfus will seek a new shareholder for the 166-year-old firm she controls, as divestments continue.

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