China’s COFCO Agri hiring grain traders, opening Winnipeg office

Winnipeg has long been a centre of the Prairie grain trade, having hosted the headquarters of past and present grain handlers and traders and the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange (now ICE Futures Canada). (Canadian Wheat Board photo)

Winnipeg | Reuters –– Chinese state-owned agricultural trader COFCO Agri is opening a trading office in the Canadian grain hub of Winnipeg, adding to the aggressive expansion of its North American agriculture business.

COFCO Agri is hiring three grain traders and an operations manager to expand export and domestic trading, according to the company’s postings on professional networking site LinkedIn.

Efforts to reach COFCO spokespeople and the company’s U.S. human resources director for further details were unsuccessful.

On its website, the company lists regional trading and asset offices in eight countries, but none in Canada, the world’s largest canola-exporting country and one of the top wheat exporters.

COFCO has embarked on an aggressive expansion into international grain trading, having invested over $3 billion to buy Noble Group’s agribusiness and a large stake in Dutch grain trader Nidera.

The Noble ag business, Noble Agri Ltd., became COFCO Agri in March, after COFCO paid US$750 million for the 49 per cent of Noble Agri it didn’t already own.

COFCO also has an office in Vancouver to conduct market analysis.

The company is shopping for deals in the U.S. and Canada to give it access to North America’s grains and oilseeds for export. It is also setting up a U.S. ethanol trading desk, sources told Reuters in May.

Several of the largest Canadian grain traders already have head offices in Winnipeg, including Richardson International, Cargill, Paterson Grain and Parrish and Heimbecker.

Reporting for Reuters by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg.



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