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COFCO, Noble Agri To Form Agribusiness Joint Venture

COFCO Corp., a supplier of products and services in the agricultural products and food industry in China, and Hong Kong-based Noble Group Limited (NOBGF.PK), a global supply chain manager of agricultural and energy products, metals and minerals, have entered into definitive agreements to form an agribusiness joint venture, Noble Agri Limited.

Under the terms of the agreement, COFCO will acquire a 51 percent stake in Noble Agri from Noble Group in an all cash transaction to establish a 51 percent /49 percent joint venture.

The transaction values Noble Agri equity at 1.15 times 2014 book value. As at December 31, 2013, Noble Agri had shareholders' equity of $2.8 billion and net debt of $2.5 billion.

Noble Agri will become the principal international origination platform for COFCO. Its upstream origination and trading operations will be linked to the downstream processing and distribution capabilities of COFCO and its affiliates in China to create a fully integrated value chain.

A consortium of international investors led by HOPU Investments will join COFCO as minority co-investors in this acquisition. COFCO will hold two-thirds of the investment vehicle with the balance held by the HOPU-led consortium.

Frank Ning, Chairman of COFCO, will assume the role of Chairman of Noble Agri and Richard Elman, Founder and Chairman of Noble Group, will take on the role of Deputy Chairman.

Yusuf Alireza, CEO of Noble Group, will be the interim CEO working closely with the current Noble Agri leadership team.

Frank Ning, Chairman of COFCO, said, "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."

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