Noble Group sells 51% stake in agri unit to grain trader Cofco Corp

China's biggest grain trader Cofco Corporation (Cofco), and commodities trader Noble Group, will form an agribusiness joint venture, said Noble Group on Apr 2.

Cofco will buy a 51 per cent stake in the unit called Noble Agri from Noble Group with cash.

Noble Agri will become a 51-49 joint venture after the deal, which values Noble Agri equity at 1.15 times of its 2014 book value.

Noble Agri had shareholders' equity of US$2.8 billion (S$3.5 billion) and net debt of US$2.5 billion, as at Dec 31, 2013.

Noble Group said in a joint statement: "Noble Agri will become the principal international origination platform for Cofco."

A consortium of international investors led by Hopu Investments will also join Cofco as minority co-investors in the acquisition.

Cofco chairman Frank Ning said in a statement: "Noble Agri's supply chain management system and origination capabilities complement Cofco's logistics, processing, and distribution network in China.

"Incremental trade volumes from Cofco as a strategic investor will create significant

synergy and value."