UPDATE 1-EXCLUSIVE-COFCO delays $20 mln port hub in southern Brazil

(Adds comments by sources, background)

SAO PAULO, Oct 18 (Reuters) - A division of Chinese commodity trader COFCO has delayed completion of a $20 million port hub in southern Brazil, three sources told Reuters, as it struggles to reorganize operations after merging its Nidera BV and Noble Agri businesses.

The transshipment hub on the bank of the Sinos river, which is still under construction, is expected to move 850,000 tonnes of grains per year - from trucks to barges bound for Rio Grande for export, and receive imported wheat shipped through that port.

Two suppliers said equipment and machines acquired by Nidera Sementes Ltda, the division responsible for the project, had been manufactured but not delivered at the buyer's request.

"Shipment did not occur at the expected date," one supplier said, referring to machines bought for the port. Another said the parties were discussing whether to send the equipment originally destined for that project to another COFCO unit. COFCO, which did not reply to requests for comment, completed its takeover of Nidera this year.

The delay underscores COFCO's battle to create a cohesive structure after first investing in Dutch-based trader Nidera in 2014 and merging it with Noble Agri, a former unit of Singapore's Noble Group, to create COFCO Intl last April.

Since first investing in Nidera, COFCO has had several setbacks including a $150 million financial hole in its Latin American operations and $200 million in unauthorized trading losses on its biofuels desk.

One person familiar with COFCO's strategy said the company was looking at divesting assets as it integrated Nidera and Noble into the company and fine-tuned operations. The port hub project's main suppliers include silo maker Kepler Weber SA and TMSA Tecnologia em Movimentação SA, a maker of belt conveyors and grain loading machines. TMSA declined to comment. Kepler Weber did not reply to a request for comment.

Budgeted at 62 million reais ($20 million), the project was intended to create 50 direct and 200 indirect jobs, according to a description Nidera sent to regulator Antaq in 2013.

Antaq filings show the regulator granted formal approval for the project on a 140,837 square-meter area in the town of Canoas in Rio Grande do Sul state in May 2016.

Reuters reported in August that COFCO was considering selling Nidera's Latin American seeds business. Weeks later COFCO said it would end operations at a soy crushing plant in the Brazilian state of Paraná.

($1 = 3.17 reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano; Additional reporting by Jake Spring in Brasilia; Editing by Brad Haynes and Susan Thomas)