Noble Group Ltd said on Tuesday it has agreed to sell its remaining 49 percent stake in its agribusiness to China's state-owned COFCO International Ltd, exiting agricultural markets as the Asian commodity merchant seeks to slash debt and shore up cash.
The deal will hand COFCO full ownership of Noble Agri, which handles everything from corn to sugar to cocoa. It will expand its global footprint in agricultural markets, rivaling the "ABCD" quartet of companies -- Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus.
It bought an initial 51 percent stake in Noble Agri in April 2014.
The terms of the deal also include an additional deferred payment following a stock market listing or sale of the business as well as exposure to future growth of the business worth up to $200 million.
Reuters reported the deal last week.
Cash proceeds of $750 million will go toward paying off debt, exceeding Noble chief executive Yusuf Alireza's pledge last month to raise $500 million through asset sales and strategic transactions, it said.
That will help the firm retain its investment grade credit rating and repair investor confidence after a bruising accounting dispute.
Shares in Asia's biggest commodity trader have shed around two-thirds of their value since mid-February when blogger Iceberg Research alleged the company was inflating its assets by billions of dollars by not fairly representing the value of its commodity contracts. Noble rejected the claims and board-appointed consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers found no wrongdoing in a report published in August.
This deal will put Noble's financial metrics in excess of those required of an investment grade credit, Noble said on Tuesday.
The transaction is subject to approval from Noble shareholders and the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board. No other anti-trust approvals are required.