April 5, 2017 / 4:49 PM / a year ago

ADM to close South Africa trading desk in further business shake up

LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM) plans to close its South African trading desk, the company said on Wednesday, in a further shake up as the Chicago-based agribusiness grapples with volatile global grain markets.

ADM said in a statement it had informed staff it was “proposing discontinuing our South Africa merchandising operations, following the legally required employee consultation process”.

The company said this related to its global trade desk operations in Johannesburg, adding it would continue activities related to its Golden Peanut and Tree Nuts food business in South Africa.

“We believe the changes we are making will lead to a strong and focused (global) operation that will yield improved results as we move through 2017,” ADM said.

Two sources familiar with the matter said separately the South Africa desk was winding down trading positions, which are expected to be wrapped up by mid July.

ADM said on its website its South Africa unit originates and trades grain and oilseeds for the Sub-Saharan region and employed 25 people.

In February, ADM reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $424 million, or 73 cents per share, down 41 percent on the same period a year earlier.

A record-large U.S. corn and soybean harvest and brisk U.S. crop exports boosted results for its agricultural services segment. But those gains were blunted by more losses by its global trading desk, which has exited energy trading and shed key personnel in recent months. (Reporting by Jonathan Saul, Zandi Shabalala and Nigel Hunt; Editing by Mark Potter)

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