UPDATE 1-Ecom to buy Armajaro's commodity trading operations

Marcy Nicholson
Monday, 11 Nov 2013 | 10:29 AM ET

NEW YORK, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Swiss commodity trader Ecom Agroindustrial Corp Ltd has struck a deal to buy London-based Armajaro Holdings Ltd's commodity trading operations, creating one of the world's biggest cocoa and coffee traders.

The deal, announced by Ecom on Monday, follows months of negotiations, a source familiar with talks told Reuters.

Terms were not disclosed.

The deal comes as ownership in the softs commodity sector is going through significant changes. Swiss-based Barry Callebaut has purchased the cocoa business of Singapore's Petra Foods Ltd, Archer Daniels Midland Co is in talks to sell its cocoa business, and top sugar merchant Bunge Ltd recently signaled it may exit its Brazilian sugar milling business.

All this comes as coffee and sugar futures sit near multi-year lows, and cocoa near two-year highs.

Armajaro Trading Ltd was founded in 1998 and is a global "soft" commodity trading house and supply chain manager under parent company Armajaro Holdings Ltd. After dealing in cocoa and coffee for years, it recently set up a sugar desk.

Ecom, which deals in coffee, cocoa, sugar and cotton in producing countries, is already one of the world's top three merchants in coffee, is one of the largest coffee millers in the world and is among the top five merchants in both cocoa and cotton, according to its website

Ecom owns Dutch Cocoa in Amsterdam, where it has an annual cocoa grinding capacity of 70,000 tonnes, and has grinding capacity of 40,000 tonnes through AMCO in Mexico. Its co-owned Malaysian facility, JB Cocoa, has a maximum capacity of 150,000 tonnes, according to its website.