Prograin head buys into soy processor Ceresco

CORRECTED, Sept. 15, 2017 — A major Quebec processor and exporter of identity-preserved (IP) soybeans for food markets is set to be sold to an investor group including the head of soybean firm Semences Prograin.

SG Ceresco, based southwest of Montreal at St-Urbain-Premier, will be sold to a joint venture between Prograin president Alain Letourneau’s holding company and Transit BD, a holding company owned by well-known Quebec grain industry player Pierre Dagenais, Jefo Nutrition and Beaudier Inc., a Beaudoin family investment firm.

Ceresco processes and exports IP, non-GMO conventional and organic soybeans. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in a press release from Letourneau and Transit BD on Wednesday, except that it’s “subject to certain customary closing conditions.”

Letourneau later said his holding company will have a 50 per cent stake in Ceresco, adding that Prograin and Ceresco will remain separate, competing businesses. The terms of the deal are confidential, he said, but added it’s worth “millions.”

Transit BD, the other joint venture shareholder, is also known as a joint venture partner with La Coop federee in CanEst Transit, a container shipping company that cleans, loads and ships ag products at the Port of Montreal.

Ceresco, which started operating in 1987 under the name Semences Gripon and rebranded under its current name in 2001, operates a research farm in Quebec’s Monteregie and a research centre at St-Isidore de Laprairie. It today bills itself as one of the top Canadian exporters of food-grade soybeans.

Ceresco’s co-founder and co-owner, Thierry Gripon, will remain with the company as leader of its international soybean sales team. Its other co-founder and co-owner, Mireille Raymond, will manage the company’s operations “until a new general manager is in place,” Letourneau and Transit BD said.

Ceresco sells soy into Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and markets in North America and Europe.

The company “has a significant international development potential and we are very enthusiastic about further developing this Quebec jewel,” Pierre Dagenais, a shareholder in Transit BD, said in Wednesday’s release.

Letourneau, whose Prograin business is billed as the largest private value-added soybean company in Canada, said Ceresco “possesses an excellent customer base of soybean producers with whom we can build the future.”

Gripon, in the same release, said he and Raymond are “convinced that the new group of shareholders will be successful in carrying out projects and the future destiny of the company.” — Network

CORRECTION, Sept. 15, 2017 — A previous version of this article cited a Quebec media outlet as saying Alain Letourneau’s holding company would own a 51 per cent stake in Ceresco. The correct figure is 50 per cent.

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