One of the world’s leading commodity traders, Louis-Dreyfus Company (LDC), has opened up to outside ownership for the first time in almost 170 years. The trader has sold a 45pc stake to ADQ, the Abu Dhabi state-owned holding company and also agreed a long-term supply agreement for the UAE. Owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who also chairs LDC’s supervisory board, said the partnership marked a “milestone" in the firm's strategy. She has been seeking new investment after tightening her control in December 2018 when she bought out family members, borrowing about $1bn (£755m) from Credit Suisse to do so, pledged against her stake. Micheal Gelchie, LDC chief executive, said the firm and ADQ had a “shared ambition” to invest in innovation and technology that could “transform food and agricultural production”. LDC is one of the ABCD quartet of leading commodity traders, alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill. Founded as a grain trader in 1851 by Leopold Louis-Dreyfus, it produces, stores and ships about 80m tonnes of cotton, rice, sugar, grain and other agricultural products a year, with 2019 sales of $33.6bn and profit of $230m. Leopold’s great grandson, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, took over in 2006, three years before his death from leukaemia, when he put his wife Margarita in charge of the trust that held his 61pc stake. Commodities traders have been trying to diversify in recent years amid rising competition and trade wars. LDC has invested in partnerships with Leong Hup International, the poultry business based in Malaysia, and Luckin Coffee, the Chinese coffee chain. The terms of its deal with ADQ were not disclosed. LDC said at least $800m from the sale would be invested to support its long-term plans. H.E. Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, chief executive of ADQ, said: "We share LDC’s vision for future growth of the business, and look forward to partnering with LDC’s existing shareholders and management team to capitalize on the sector’s emerging opportunities."
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