Special dividend lifts Cofco shares

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 2007, 12:00am

Shares in Cofco International, the largest grain trader in China, surged to their highest level in at least 17 years after it proposed a special dividend related to the spin-off of its unit China Agri Holdings.

The stock gained 9.51 per cent or 79 HK cents to close at HK$9.10 yesterday. It has risen 15.8 per cent this year.

Cofco International said holders of every share in the company would receive about one China Agri share as an interim special dividend.

Overseas shareholders would receive cash instead of China Agri shares, it said.

Cofco International shareholders may choose to transfer their China Agri shares back to the group in exchange for cash, it said.

Cofco International, which is controlled by state-owned China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp, may raise about US$200 million from the spin-off, sources earlier said.

Goldman Sachs and Bank of China International were hired to arrange the sale.

A source said Cofco International management was confident to list China Agri shares on the main board in the first quarter.

China Agri has interests in biofuels and biochemicals, oilseed and wheat processing and rice trading and the spin-off will separate such operations from Cofco International's consumer businesses such as edible oil and winemaking.

Cofco International shareholders in November approved the company's plan to buy HK$5.33 billion worth of businesses including agricultural, Coca-Cola bottling and winemaking from its parent as well as the spin-off of China Agri.

Cofco International will change its name to China Foods on completion of the spin-off.