Olam to list agricultural arm in Singapore and Saudi Arabia

Olam Group, one of the world’s biggest agricultural commodity traders, will list its $3.5bn agricultural arm in Singapore and potentially Saudi Arabia in the first half of this year as concerns around the war in Ukraine and climate change have spurred investment in food security.

The Singapore-based trader, which sold a 35 per cent stake in Olam Agri to a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last year for $1.24bn, said the dual listing of the company is designed to help grow its business outside of Asia.

Olam Agri is looking to raise between $800mn and $1bn for the listing, according to two people familiar with the deal. The company, which supplies global brands from Nestlé to Unilever, also counts Japan’s Mitsubishi and Singaporean state investment company Temasek as its backers.

The initial public offering comes as Saudi Arabia is looking to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels into sectors including agriculture. The kingdom in September announced a co-ordinated $10bn plan to tackle the global food security crisis and stabilise supply chains.

Climate change and the war in Ukraine are set to keep food prices at higher levels than before the Covid-19 pandemic, even as wholesale food costs have stabilised in recent months.

Olam Agri is a supplier and processor that links farmers — particularly from frontier and emerging markets in Asia and Africa — with global brands.

“Efforts to spin off this business ticks boxes in a world where people [are] valuing food security and high environmental, social and governance standards,” said Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, head of consumer and internet research at Aletheia Capital.

The company is “viewed as proxy for commodity or food prices going up,” he said, though he added that a number of global investors were not set up to trade the Saudi stock market.

“The Saudis have been investing in the business for a while, and it fits into the government’s plans to diversify and get exposure to businesses that are ESG-friendly but also serve its specific interests,” he said.

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