AGfinance Notes

U.S. biofuel plan disappoints

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) — U.S. regulators have proposed a modest increase in the amount of corn-based ethanol and biofuel that American fuel producers must mix into diesel and gasoline next year.

The move disappointed agricultural and oil lobbies.

In unveiling the latest stage in its controversial biofuel program, the Environmental Protection Agency called for 18.8 billion U.S. gallons to be blended into the fuel supply next year, up four percent from the 18.11 billion gallons set for this year.

That includes 14.8 billion gallons for conventional biofuel, mainly ethanol, up from 14.5 billion for this year, the EPA said.

As expected, the new total for the Renewable Fuel Standard is well below the 24 billion gallons outlined in a 2007 law aimed at cutting U.S. oil imports and boosting renewable fuel use.

Still, the volumes represent “ambitious, but achievable” growth for the renewable fuel industry, the EPA said.

The increase did not go far enough for the farm lobby and biofuel companies that have spent millions to produce advanced biofuel.

Oil industry advocates, who have criticized previous targets as unrealistic, renewed calls for an overhaul of the program.

Andersons rejects bid

(Reuters) — U.S. grain handler Andersons Inc. has rejected a $1 billion takeover offer from HC2 Holdings Inc. as too low.

It called the bid an attempt to capitalize on a sharp downturn in the agricultural economy.

With the U.S. farm sector suffering from large corn and wheat stocks and depressed crop prices, the Ohio-based agribusiness said it was better off remaining a “standalone entity” than selling to the holding company run by former hedge fund manager Philip Falcone.

HC2’s takeover bid “represent(s) an opportunistic attempt to acquire the company at a low point in the industry cycle,” chair Mike Anderson said in a statement.

Andersons, which buys grain, produces ethanol and leases rail cars, swung to a net loss in 2015 and in the first quarter of 2016.

Last year, Canadian grain company Richardson International said it was looking at Andersons Inc. and other American companies as it planned expansion into the United States.

Former Louis Dreyfus CEO leaves board

PARIS, France (Reuters) — Global agricultural trader Louis Dreyfus Co. has made management changes that saw former chief executive officer Serge Schoen leave its board. It’s seen as another step in a leadership shakeup led by top shareholder Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.

The departure of Schoen, who oversaw rapid growth at the trading house as CEO from 2005-13, comes after Louis Dreyfus ended a protracted search for a permanent successor as CEO by promoting former Asia head Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena last year.

As CEO, Schoen had steered the group through a boom period in agriculture, notching record net profit for the group of $1 billion as fast growing demand in emerging countries and lagging supply fuelled rising prices.

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