Sumitomo takes over Emerald

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Sumitomo takes over Emerald Grain
Camera IconSumitomo takes over Emerald Grain Credit: The West Australian

Sumitomo has signalled it is on the hunt for major agricultural and food processing assets in Australia after taking full ownership of Emerald Grain.

The move confirms renewed interest in food production from giant Japanese corporations, including Sumitomo, Mitsui, Marubeni and Mitsubishi.

Emerald chief executive John Murray said yesterday that Sumitomo had been investing in food processing businesses throughout Asia.

"We see that investment continuing and Emerald will be a significant part of that growth," Mr Murray said. "Sumitomo has ambitions to be a global grain company and Emerald will be the vehicle they use to leverage into that position."

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Sumitomo was one of the bidders trumped by Cargill's $420 million offer for Joe White Maltings last year and Mr Murray said acquisitions of that size were on Emerald's radar.

"They have looked at the demand for food that will happen in the next 30 years, coming largely out of Asia, and becoming a larger part of that supply of food is a key strategy," he said.

Sumitomo bumped up its 50 per cent share to full ownership in a complex deal involving shares held by Emerald founders Alan Winney, Mike Chaseling and Mick Cattanach, and staff.

Sumitomo owned Australian Bulk Alliance when it took a 50 per cent stake in Emerald four years ago.

It is understood Emerald investors in turn took a stake in ABA, which owned the Melbourne Port Terminal and 15 up-country receival sites.

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