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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Tillridge Global Agribusiness Exec Joins Bunge Board Amid ADM Takeover Buzz

Bunge announced that Mark Zenuk, managing director of Tillridge Global Agribusiness Partners, is joining the company’s Board of Directors effective July 17.

Prior to his position with Tillridge, which he held since 2016, Zenuk was managing director with NGP Energy Capital Management where between the years 2010 and 2016 he headed up the company’s agribusiness investment platform.

Beginning in 1999 however, Zenuk held a range of executive leadership roles, both domestic and international, with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), with his most recent appointment being to head up the company’s oilseed business unit.

"We're pleased to welcome Mark to our Board of Directors," said L. Patrick Lupo, chairman, Bunge Limited. "His deep experience and understanding of global agribusiness markets, along with his operating expertise and strong commitment to shareholder value, make him an ideal addition to the Board. We believe his industry perspectives and business acumen will be extremely valuable as Bunge continues to execute its strategic priorities."

Tillridge Global Agribusiness Partners, an affiliate of NGP Energy Capital Management, began investing in 2012, focusing on investments along the agribusiness supply value chain — from commodity processing and storage, to transportation and logistics, to food service manufacturing.

In September 2016 GAI News confirmed that the Maine Public Employees’ Retirement Fund (MainePERS) agreed to commit $50 million to Tillridge Global Agribusiness Fund II, and the following month the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System (HMEPS) followed suit, committing $20 million.

It is Zenuk’s history with ADM, however, that is sparking conjecture, given the recent buzz surrounding a possible ADM takeover of Bunge.

In the first weeks of this year, ADM approached Bunge with an undisclosed bid to takeover the U.S.-based rival, according to the Wall Street Journal – a move that was expected to be met with rigorous regulatory examination, and a possible bidding war from Swiss commodities giant Glencore, which made an unsuccessful play for Bunge last year.

The move to acquire Bunge, which would intensify ADM’s presence in commodities, was being viewed by industry insiders as possibly questionable at the time, as most traders have been looking to extend their reach up the supply chain to higher margin, value-added businesses. ADM itself has moved in that direction in recent years buying Wild Flavors in 2014 for $3.1 billion; Eatem Foods, a natural and organic flavors company, in 2015 for an undisclosed amount; and Amazon Flavors, Brazil’s top producer of natural extracts, emulsions, and compounds, in 2016.

However, at the same time, other analysts point to Bunge’s plants in Argentina as a big draw for the deal, which could be valued as high as $16 billion, making it the largest among the top four global A-B-C-D traders, according to Reuters. Striking to acquire Bunge would also prove to be a decisive and pre-emptive move to block Glencore.

“From an ADM perspective, Glencore absorbing Bunge would create a dangerous competitor for them. So they may be trying to deter Glencore,” Jean-Francois Lambert, founding partner of consultancy Lambert Commodities and a former HSBC banker, told Reuters earlier this year.

Combining the “A” and the “B” companies of the top A-B-C-Ds, would create a true global trading powerhouse. Both ADM and Bunge hold massive U.S. interest, with ADM seeing sales of $62.3 billion and Bunge seeing sales of $42.6 billion in 2016. And although Bunge has a greater presence in South American markets and ADM has a greater presence in the U.S., the overlap in crushing and other grain related activities and operations would certainly lead to the divestiture of assets. Or, there is also the possibility that it could align ADM and Glencore into splitting Bunge between them.

Stay tuned...

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