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Bunge and BP to create a leading bioenergy company in Brazil

US-headed Bunge Ltd, a leader in agriculture, food, and ingredients, has announced an agreement with global oil major BP plc to form a 50:50 joint venture that will create a leading bioenergy company in Brazil, one of the world’s largest fast-growing markets for biofuels.

Bunge Ltd, a leader in agriculture, food, and ingredients, has announced an agreement with global oil major BP plc to form a 50:50 joint venture that will create a leading bioenergy company in Brazil, one of the world’s largest fast-growing biofuels markets. Bunge operates 11 sugarcane mills that produce a mix of ethanol, sugar, and electricity (photo courtesy Bunge).

According to a statement, Bunge will receive cash proceeds of US$775 million in the transaction, comprising US$700 million in respect of non-recourse Bunge debt to be assumed by the joint venture at closing, and US$75 million from BP, subject to customary closing adjustments.

The proceeds will be used to reduce outstanding indebtedness under the Company’s credit facilities, resulting in a stronger balance sheet and greater financial flexibility. The deal progresses Bunge’s strategy to optimize its portfolio.

This partnership with BP represents a major portfolio optimization milestone for Bunge which allows us to reduce our current exposure to sugar milling, strengthen our balance sheet and focus on our core businesses. We have a strong, committed partner in BP, as well as flexibility in the medium and long term for further monetization, with full exit potential via an IPO or other strategic routes, said Gregory A. Heckman, recently appointed as CEO for Bunge.

Second largest player in Brazil

To be called BP Bunge Bioenergia, the joint venture will operate on a stand-alone basis, with a total of 11 mills located across the Southeast, North and Midwest regions of Brazil. With 32 million tonnes of annual combined crushing capacity, the joint venture will have the flexibility to produce a mix of ethanol and sugar.

It will also generate renewable electricity – fuelled by waste biomass from the sugar cane – through its cogeneration facilities to power all its sites and sell surplus electricity to the Brazilian power grid. BP and Bunge’s assets are largely complementary, with sites in five Brazilian states including three in the key region of São Paulo. The combined business will be ranked as the second-largest player in the industry in Brazil by effective crushing capacity.

Biofuels have a key role to play in the energy transition and Brazil is leading the way by developing this industry at scale. In one step, this agreement will allow BP to significantly grow the size, efficiency and flexibility of our biofuels business in one of the world’s major growth markets. With our shared commitment to safety and sustainability, the combination of BP and Bunge’s assets and expertise will allow us to improve performance, develop options for growth and generate real value. BP Bunge Bioenergia will be well-placed to play a significant part in meeting Brazil’s growing demand for both biofuels and biopower, said Dev Sanyal, Chief Executive of BP Alternative Energy.

Following completion, the aim is for BP Bunge Bioenergia to generate significant operational and financial synergies, including through scale efficiencies and by applying best practices, optimised technologies and operational capabilities across all the assets of the new business.

The new business is expected to be headquartered in Sao Paulo. Mario Lindenhayn from BP will be Executive Chairman, Geovane Consul from Bunge, will be Chief Executive Officer (CEO). BP and Bunge will have equal representation on the Board of Directors.

Transaction summary

  • 50:50 joint venture between BP and Bunge’s Brazilian sugar and bioenergy production businesses;
  • US$775 million of total cash proceeds to Bunge from the transaction;
  • The joint venture will operate on a stand-alone basis; and upon the closing of the transaction, Bunge will no longer consolidate its sugar and bioenergy operations in Brazil in its consolidated financial statements. Bunge will account for its interest in the joint venture under the equity method of accounting.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of Bunge. Closing of the transaction is expected in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals.

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