TOKYO -- Itochu will take a 50% stake in Brazilian grain company Naturalle, which will seek to quadruple its annual collection of soybeans through its tie-up with the Japanese trading house.
Naturalle breeds soybeans, sells their seeds to growers and collects their harvests for export to China and other Asian markets.
Itochu will buy shares in Naturalle from Axial, a Brazilian venture capital firm, this year and take a private placement of stock from the company itself. The investment is estimated at slightly more than 2 billion yen ($18.8 million). Naturalle aims to be collecting an annual 1 million tons of soy two years into the tie-up.
Itochu and its new Asian ally, Charoen Pokphand Group, Thailand's biggest conglomerate, see opportunities for soy-related ventures in Brazil, including silo and terminal construction and oil extraction. The Naturalle deal will mark the Japanese company's first entry into the grain business in the South American country.