March 5, 2018 / 6:30 PM / a year ago

Continental Grain to push Bunge to consider potential sale -source

CHICAGO, March 5 (Reuters) - U.S. agricultural investor Continental Grain Co plans to push Bunge Ltd to consider a potential sale, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday, after Archer Daniels Midland Co approached Bunge about a takeover.

It was unclear how Continental Grain would push Bunge to consider a sale. But Continental Grain, which invests in the farm and food processing industry, has increased its stake in agricultural merchant Bunge to more than 1 percent, the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

On Monday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission publicly granted Continental Grain approval for its increased position, a filing that signals the company intends to engage with Bunge management.

Continental Grain’s “focus is on the path to maximize value, including the potential sale” of Bunge, the source said. A Bunge spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Agricultural merchants such Bunge and rival ADM have struggled recently as a global oversupply of food commodities has made it tough to turn a profit on their core business: buying, processing and selling corn, soy and wheat.

In January, a source said ADM had approached Bunge about a takeover. The companies have declined to comment on the matter. Last year, Bunge rebuffed an approach from commodity trader Glencore Plc.

Five years ago, when Continental Grain held a stake in U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods, the investor sent Smithfield a letter urging a breakup and also filed a presentation with U.S. securities regulators. China’s Shuanghui International Holdings, now known as WH Group Ltd, eventually bought Smithfield. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago Editing by P.J. Huffstutter and Susan Thomas)

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