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Crop merchant Louis Dreyfus profit rises as new shareholder joins

Stock MarketsSep 21, 2021 06:12AM ET
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By Gus Trompiz

PARIS (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) on Tuesday reported a sharp rise in first-half profit, in another sign that mounting commodity prices and strong demand for staple crops are boosting earnings for international merchants.

The improved results further ease financial pressure on LDC after it completed this month the sale of a stake to Abu Dhabi holding firm ADQ, heralding the first non-family shareholder in the agricultural commodity group's 170-year history.

Group net profit reached $336 million, up 167% from $126 million a year earlier, partly due to a reduced tax bill linked to currency effects, LDC said in a statement

Core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 23% to $778 million.

A surge in commodity prices and strong grain demand from China have supported earnings for agricultural merchants during the coronavirus pandemic, and helped LDC's profits to recover last year.

An economic rebound, as countries have eased restrictions to curb COVID-19, has also revived demand for textiles and crop-based biofuel.

LDC said an upturn in cotton and biofuel contributed to a 4.2% increase in its shipped volumes in the first half.

Among its other products, grains and oilseeds continued to perform strongly while rice sustained favourable margins despite higher freight rates and logistics constraints, LDC said.

Citing "a persistently volatile environment", Chief Executive Michael Gelchie said LDC's market knowledge, risk management and hedging strategies led to "solid results for the first half of the year."

LDC, known as Dreyfus, is the "D" of the "ABCD" quartet of renowned global agricultural commodity firms alongside Archer- Daniels-Midland Co, Bunge (NYSE:BG) Ltd and Cargill Inc.

LDC has sold a 45% indirect stake to ADQ, concluding a long hunt for an investor by controlling shareholder and chairwoman Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who had built up debt buying out other family members during a period of lean profits.

The ADQ deal has allowed LDC's parent company to repay $1 billion borrowed from its operating group, a debt relating to Brazilian sugar firm Biosev that was previously owned by LDC's parent.

LDC's group equity as of June 30 rose to $5 billion from $4.9 billion at the end of 2020, with first-half net income partly offset by a $191 million dividend paid to shareholders, the group's results showed.

Crop merchant Louis Dreyfus profit rises as new shareholder joins

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