Beijing-based agricultural conglomerate COFCO Corporation says the company plans to pay US$1.5 billion for a 51% stake in Noble Agri Limited, according to a company announcement.
A consortium of international investors led by Hopu Investment Management Co. will join COFCO as minority co-investors in the acquisition. COFCO will hold two-thirds of the investment vehicle with the balance held by the Hopu-led consortium.
Noble Agri is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based agriculture and energy supply chain manager Noble Group.
The transaction values Noble Agri equity at 1.15 times 2014 book value. As of 31 December 2013, Noble Agri had shareholders’ equity of US$2.8 billion and net debt of US$2.5 billion.
The two parties will form an agribusiness joint venture named Noble Agri Limited, which will serve as the principal international origination platform for COFCO.
Founded in 2007, Hopu raised a debut fund of US$2.5 billion in 2008. Most recently, it had initial closing at US$1.1 billion for its second fund, Hopu USD Master Fund II, L.P., which focuses on the consumer, natural resources, and financial services sectors.
Last November, Hopu partnered with Temasek Holdings and three other investors in acquiring a 13.25% stake in Yashili International from China Mengniu Dairy for HK$1.6 billion ($213 million).
In February, the company participated in a US$2.5 billion investment in Singapore-based warehouse operator Global Logistic Properties (GLP) with Bank of China Group Investment Ltd and an unnamed Chinese insurance company.
COFCO is China’s largest food processing holding company.