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Singapore agri-trader Olam to unveil partnership with Japanese peer: sources

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Olam International Ltd., the food commodity trader controlled by Singapore's state investment company, plans to sell a stake of more than 10 per cent to Mitsubishi Corp, people with knowledge of the matter said.

[SINGAPORE] Agri-trader Olam International, majority owned by Singapore state investor Temasek, is set to announce a strategic partnership with a Japanese peer, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday after Olam halted trading of its stock.

Singapore-based Olam has held talks with Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsui & Co to form a joint venture and use the Japanese firms' global reach, said the people, who declined to be identified as discussions were private. The talks included one of the Japanese firms investing in Olam, they said.

Olam and Temasek Holdings declined to comment. Mitsubishi and Mitsui declined to provide immediate comment.

Olam processes and sells foods such as nuts and spices, as well as raw materials such as cotton and rubber.

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Temasek raised its stake in Olam after the agri-trader's accounting practices were criticised by short-seller Muddy Waters in late 2012, sending Olam's share price plummeting.

Olam, with a market value of US$3 billion, has since sold stakes in more than a dozen operations, including in grains and dairy, to cut debt, boost cash flow and generate profits.

In a stock exchange filing on Thursday, Olam requested a trading halt pending an announcement. The people said an announcement on the partnership could come as early as Thursday.

Olam's shares were 13 per cent higher before the halt, on track for their biggest single-day percentage gain in more than six years. The broader market was up 2.3 per cent.