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Bunge terminates merger agreement with CPI

By Sarah Hills , 10-Nov-2008

Bunge announced today that its board of directors has voted to terminate the merger agreement with Corn Products International (CPI), following a decision by CPI’s board to withdraw its support.

The $4.8bn deal, announced in June, was expected to move Bunge closer to becoming the second largest agribusiness in the world, whilst expanding CPI’s product portfolio.

But the agreement was thrown into turmoil last week when CPI’s board of directors notified Bunge of its intent to withdraw its recommendation in favor of adopting the previously announced merger agreement, and instead recommend against it.

Today Alberto Weisser, Bunge Limited’s chairman and CEO, said: “We remain disappointed with the decision of the Corn Products Board to withdraw its recommendation of the merger.

“While we continue to believe in the long-term strategic benefits of a merger between Bunge and Corn Products, after careful consideration we have determined that it would not be in the best interests of our company or shareholders to pursue the transaction at this time.

“Moving forward, Bunge will continue to pursue its strategy of investing for growth in its core businesses and in complementary value chains.”

CPI said last week that if it withdrew or changed its recommendation of the merger, Bunge had the right to require CPI to hold a meeting of its stockholders to vote on the adoption of the merger agreement, or to terminate the merger agreement.

Bunge could then seek reimbursement from CPI for up to $10m of expenses related to the merger.

Christopher Shanahan, research analyst, Global Chemicals, Materials and Food, at Frost & Sullivan, told last week that Bunge was more exposed to commodity markets than CPI and the last three months had been particularly volatile.

Shanahan said that it appeared CPI's potential cost savings and gains from the merger, relative to the increased market risk to its shareholders has diminished and has thus stimulated the decision to not adopt the merger recommendation with Bunge.

He described this change of heart as possibly a “knee-jerk reaction to the current state of affairs and even myopic”.

However, he added that given CPI's strong performance in the last couple of years, it also appeared that CPI was “doing fine by itself”.

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