Cargill Inc. is monitoring the unrest in Ukraine, the world’s third-largest corn exporter, as an antigovernment insurgency intensifies.
Cargill’s grain-export operations haven’t been affected, its Kiev office remains open and no employees have been directly affected by the unrest, spokeswoman Corinne Holtshausen said yesterday in an e-mail. The Minneapolis-based crop trader and processor, the largest closely held U.S. company, has adapted shifts and encouraged employees in Ukraine to work from home where appropriate to ensure safety, she said.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation on the ground as it evolves,” Holtshausen said.
Lawmakers in the Ukrainian city of Lviv have established an autonomous government and protesters have seized government and security headquarters in at least four other regions. President Viktor Yanukovych’s security service is undertaking a nationwide anti-terrorism operation to restore public order and protect state borders, giving the army the right to search, detain and even fire on people.
Cargill has been in Ukraine for more than 20 years and employs 600 workers, according to its website. Its businesses include supplying crop products, seeds and fertilizers, processing sunflower seeds and buying grains and oilseeds from farmers. In January, the company bought a 5 percent stake in Kiev-based Ukrlandfarming Plc, Ukraine’s biggest agricultural producer.
Interest from grain traders in the Eastern European country has increased with the rise in corn exports in the past few years. Ukraine has become the largest corn exporter after the U.S. and Brazil and will ship 18.5 million metric tons of corn in the 2013-14 season, more than triple the amount three years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Bunge Ltd. (BG:US), which purchased a port terminal in the country in 2011, is interested in Ukraine as a place where it can “solidify” its position in the Black Sea region, Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder said on a Feb. 13 conference call.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM:US), the world’s largest corn processor, has operations in Ukraine including export facilities run by its Alfred C. Toepfer International subsidiary, an oilseed processing plant and merchandising and handling assets, according to a securities filing.
Glencore Xstrata Plc has storage facilities and crushing and farming assets, according to a presentation of its website.
Charles Watenphul, a Glencore spokesman, declined to comment when reached by telephone yesterday. Jackie Anderson, an ADM spokeswoman, declined to comment on the situation in Ukraine in an e-mail. Susan Burns, a Bunge spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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