NEW YORK — The pursuit of GrainCorp Ltd. as an acquisition target fits in well with Decatur, Ill.-based Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s strategy of expansion outside the United States, said Juan Luciano, executive vice-president and chief operating officer. Mr. Luciano spoke May 15 at the BMO Farm to Market Conference in New York.
“More than half of our growth capital is being spent outside the U.S. on projects consistent with our region-specific investment strategy,” Mr. Luciano said.
He said the pending acquisition of GrainCorp is consistent with ADM’s strategy of investing in oilseeds and ag services outside the United States. In addition, he said it should help ADM advance its participation in growing destination markets.
“We see GrainCorp’s assets, culture and business model as an excellent fit for ADM,” he said.
But GrainCorp is only part of ADM’s region-specific investment strategy.
Late last year, ADM opened a soybean crush plant in Paraguay. The facility has increased ADM’s South American crushing capacity by more than 20%, Mr. Luciano said.
“We knew that Paraguay was poised to become an increasingly important regional soybean producer, so we built a fully integrated complex that includes Naviera Chaco, our barge company in the Paraguay river, a fertilizer plant, and now a soybean crush plant,” he said. “The strategic location of our complex in Villeta enables the full integration of our logistics. Our barges arrive here with input for the production of fertilizer, and leave loaded with soy products for exports. The trucks arrive with soy, sourced from different regions of the country, and return to the field with fertilizer.”
ADM completed the facility on time and several million dollars under budget. It also helped that the plant was operational before the recent record Paraguay soybean harvest.
“We see this project as a template for future greenfield development we might pursue,” Mr. Luciano said.
Eastern Europe is another region that Mr. Luciano said he believes holds significant growth potential for ADM. He said the company has enhanced its competitive position there by developing a network of origination, storage and transportation assets along the Danube river in Romania that mirror the company’s capabilities along the Mississippi river in the United States. Mr. Luciano said the project included 12 grain elevators, one inland storage elevator in western Romania, and a joint venture export elevator in the Black Sea port of Constanta.
“This expansion has enhanced our sourcing and transportation capabilities in this increasingly productive region,” he said.
Also in Eastern Europe, ADM has realized synergies from its late 2011 acquisition of Elstar Oils in Poland.
“We identified many areas where the integration of the two organizations would quickly begin to return shareholder value, and we realized them, achieving 150% of the initially projected synergies,” Mr. Luciano said. “Savings on freight deliveries, consolidation of oil bottling businesses, and synergies with existing specialty businesses have been important contributors to our better-than-expected returns.”
A partnership with Wilmar International in October 2012 led to the formation of Olenex, a joint venture for the sale and marketing of refined vegetable oils and fats in Europe.
“With a relatively small capital outlay, we’ve given ourselves the ability to offer a wider oils and fat product portfolio, along with enhanced technical support, improved logistical capabilities, and in-depth market intelligence,” Mr. Luciano explained. “The venture enables us to tap into Wilmar’s raw material sourcing capabilities. It delivers substantial benefits in the form of synergies achieved through cross-purchasing, freight savings and combined procurement. And it creates a foundation for better margins through our combined scale, leadership and sales capability. Customer feedback to date has been very positive, and we are looking at ways to further expand this partnership over time.”