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Bunge and Corn Products Int. merge

Agriculture heavyweight Bunge Ltd. will buy Corn Products International Inc. in a stock deal worth about US$4.4-billion, the company said Monday.

At the equivalent of $56 for each Bunge share, the buyout represents a 31% premium to Corn Products' closing share price of $42.90 on Friday. Two of America's oldest agricultural businesses would become one in the deal, in which Bunge would also assume $414-million of Corn Products' debt.

The buyout will combine Corn Products' sweeteners, starches and other ingredients with Bunge's portfolio of agribusiness, fertilizer, edible oil and milling products. The global market for starches and sweeteners alone is growing at approximately 5% each year, and the company has some of the biggest beer and food makers in the world as clients.

Bunge, founded in 1818 and headquartered in White Plains, New York, has more than 25,000 employees in more than 30 countries. Corn Products will maintain its operational headquarters in Westchester, Ill.

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