UPDATE 1-Bunge touches 22-month high as consolidation talk swirls

(Adds analyst comments, updates share prices)

CHICAGO, May 24 (Reuters) - Shares of Bunge Ltd touched a 22-month high on Wednesday, signaling investors' hopes for consolidation in the commodities sector even after the U.S. agribusiness said it was not in merger talks with the agricultural unit of Glencore Plc.

Bunge shares were trading slightly higher at midafternoon at $82.09 after earlier touching a peak of $82.96, the highest since July 2015. Glencore shares slipped 0.1 percent to 291.972 pence.

News that Glencore Agriculture Ltd, a joint venture owned by Glencore and two Canadian pension funds, had informally approached Bunge about a "possible consensual business combination" sparked Bunge's sharpest rally in more than eight years on Tuesday.

White Plains, New York-based Bunge later said it was not in talks with Glencore and remained committed to its growth strategy of expanding into higher-margin products like natural food ingredients and specialty edible oils.

Merger expectations have been swirling around large grain traders for months following a string of poor earnings results. Low commodity prices and a global glut of grain have squeezed core commodity trading operations for Bunge as well as rivals Archer Daniels Midland Co, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Co.

JPMorgan analyst Ann Duignan said she was surprised that Bunge struck a "relatively dismissive tone" on the Glencore deal as its "core businesses remain under pressure, with agribusiness margins weighed down by burdensome supplies of crops in all producer regions."

Bunge, with a nearly $11.5 billion market cap, could sell for a 10 times multiple, which would imply a transaction value of about $90 per share, said Morningstar analyst Seth Goldstein.

Bunge's Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder said earlier this month that the company was prepared to take the lead in any dealmaking.

Meanwhile, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said on Wednesday the company is looking to expand its agriculture business but has no plans to move into any commodities it does not already trade.

Glencore Agri is one of the world's largest suppliers of sugar, wheat and pulses such as peas and lentils. The company also trades cotton, corn, barley, sorghum, soybeans, canola and other oilseeds, edible oils and meals.

Bunge, the world's largest oilseeds processor, has a broad network of elevators and processing plants in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

(Additional reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)