South Korean chief justice says no to sale of Brazilian soybean grinder, sources say

Band Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, August 1 (Reuters)South Korean conglomerate CJ CheilJedang 097950.KS decided not to sell Brazilian soybean processor CJ Selecta after nearly a year of talks with bidders, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The prospective sale attracted strong interest from global grain traders at a time when Brazilian soybean processing margins had significantly improved.

American companies Bunge BG.N and Cargill participated in the talks until the final stage of the process, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were not public.

Buying CJ Selecta, the world’s largest producer of soy protein concentrate (SPC) used as animal feed, would help grain companies doing business in Brazil add higher-margin processed products to their portfolios.

CJ’s decision not to sell was communicated internally to Brazilian CJ Selecta employees on July 12, one of the sources said. The company is doing well at a time when global grain supplies are tight and commodity prices are high.

“It wasn’t about the money,” said a second, informed source. The Koreans received offers, including one of around $600 million, the first source said, but decided to hang on assets.

CJ and bidder Cargill did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bunge declined to comment.

In 2017, CJ CheilJedang acquired a 90% stake in Brazilian soybean grinder for 360 billion won ($276.30 million).

CJ Selecta belongs to a CJ CheilJedang unit called CJ Bio Division. Besides high-value SPC, it also manufactures soybean oil, organic fertilizers and ethanol in the state of Minas Gerais.

In an April 26 regulatory filing, CJ CheilJedang said he was considering various strategic options for CJ Selecta, without giving further details.

($1 = 1,302.9300 won)

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Paul Simao)

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