Olam International Ltd. is one of Asia’s biggest agricultural commodity traders and the company recently revealed plans to list its food ingredients unit as part of a major business overhaul. In a related development, the company has appointed joint financial advisers and legal advisers to prepare for an IPO, according to a recent statement put out by the company.
The company announced in 2020 a plan to split its food business from the rest of its commodities trading. The move is a reflection of growing recognition of the value of tapping into demand for specialty products from consumers who have become increasingly picky about the ingredients and origins of what they eat.
Chief Executive Officer of Olam, Sunny Verghese, has not given an estimate on the size of the planned listing, but said it will be “one of the larger IPOs of recent times.”
“In terms of the size of the IPO, it’s too early to announce what that would be,” Verghese said in an interview. “Given the size and scope of the OFI business, it would be a substantial IPO in whichever jurisdiction we list it.”
Verghese said the company is yet to determine the venue for the listing and will consider all available options to maximize value for new and existing shareholders.
“Our objective and criteria on which exchange or location to choose is going to be guided by where the OFI business model is likely to be fully understood,” he told Bloomberg on Friday.
Olam’s shares fell as much as 3.1% in Singapore after the announcement, mirroring a slide in global equities even as the stock remains 5% higher this year after losing 15% in 2020.
Olam was founded in 1989 and listed on the Singapore exchange in 2005. The company’s market value is about S$5.2 billion ($3.9 billion), ranked among the world’s top three suppliers of cocoa beans and cocoa products, as well as coffee, rice and cotton, according to its presentation notes.
The group expects the separation of the two units to be completed by the end of 2021. Olam Food Ingredients offers sustainable, natural, value-added food products and ingredients comprising cocoa, coffee, edible nuts, spices and dairy. It also own farms, farm-gate origination and manufacturing facilities.
The other unit – Olam Global Agri, supplies food, feed and fiber focusing on emerging markets in Asia and Africa. It includes Olam’s grains and animal feed, edible oils, rice, cotton, and commodity financial service businesses.
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