Sucrogen to acquire Proserpine Mill for $115 million

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 3rd June 2011

Sugar giant Sucrogen today announced an agreement to buy the Proserpine Co-operative Sugar Milling Association Limited (PCSMA) for $115 million dollars.

The move will increase Sucrogen’s throughput capacity to 17 million tonnes of cane, and raw sugar production to 2.2 million tonnes.

Proserpine also produces molasses and exports electricity as well as recently investing in facilities to manufacture and market furfural, a globally traded industrial chemical used in solvent extraction, foundry resins and pharmaceuticals.

The purchase, on a debt and cash-free basis, will be subject to approval by members of the PCSMA and by the ACCC.

Sucrogen, currently owns and operates seven sugar mills in North and Central Queensland, producing almost half of Australia’s total raw sugar supply. The company was spun off by CSR last year, and purchased by Singapore-based Wilmar International.

Sucrogen CEO Ian Glasson said the purchase of PCSMA would increase Sucrogen’s milling capacity by about two million tonnes, to a total of 17 million tonnes, and increase raw sugar production by about 10 per cent, to 2.2 million tonnes.

“It will also increase our presence in the Mackay central region, where we already have operations in raw sugar production, sugar refining, ethanol and liquid fertiliser production,” Glasson said.

“We think Proserpine Mill is a good fit for our business. It’s a strong asset and there is great potential in the region for expansion of the cane-growing area.

“We will honour all existing cane supply and community supportcarrangements and provide continuing employment for staff and employees.”

PCSMA is a co-operative sugar mill, wholly owned by 214 sugarcane suppliers. It is Australia’s fifth-largest raw sugar mill, with a crushing capacity of two million tonnes of cane.

“The mill currently crushes about 1.7 million tonnes of cane to produce about 250,000 tonnes of sugar and other by-products, including molasses and electricity,” Glasson said.

“PCSMA has also recently invested in facilities to manufacture and market furfural, which is a globally traded industrial chemical used in solvent extraction, foundry resins and pharmaceuticals.”

PCSMA Chairman Lou Raiteri said Sucrogen’s offer would provide PCSMA members with a cash return for their economic share of the co-operative.

“It also shores up access for the mill to sources of capital and sugar expertise to sustain the future growth and prosperity of the sugar mill,” he said.

Glasson said Proserpine members would have several weeks to consider Sucrogen’s offer before it was put to a vote by postal ballot, expected to be held in late July.

“We think our offer represents a fair deal for growers and will provide a secure future for the local sugar industry,” he said. “Wilmar is keen to work with growers to help expand the industry in the Proserpine area.”

Glasson said Proserpine Sugar Mill employees would have the opportunity to further their professional development as part of Wilmar’s global sugar interests.