Louis Dreyfus Commodities Buying Imperial Sugar

SUGAR LAND, Texas (AP) â¿¿ Agribusiness company Louis Dreyfus Commodities LLC is buying refined sugar processor Imperial Sugar Co. for about $77.5 million in cash as it diversifies its operations.

Louis Dreyfus will pay $6.35 per share, which is a 57 percent premium to Imperial Sugar's closing price of $4.05 per share on Monday. Imperial Sugar currently has approximately 12.2 million outstanding shares, according to Fact Set.

The companies said Tuesday that the total value of the deal is about $203 million, which includes debt and pension liabilities.

"This transaction is an important step forward in our plan to grow and diversify our global sugar activities from sugar cane crushing and international sugar trading into sugar refining and distribution in major consumer markets," Louis Dreyfus CEO Mikael Morn said in a statement.

Louis Dreyfus plans to fund the deal with cash on hand and existing credit lines. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition. Louis Dreyfus will start a tender offer no later than May 11.

Imperial Sugar's board unanimously approved the acquisition, which is targeted to close in the second quarter.

Last month Imperial Sugar, which is based in Sugar Land, Texas, said it received $60.4 million in net proceeds from the sale of its 50 percent stake in Wholesome Sweeteners Inc. to an affiliate of private investment group Arlon Group.

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