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Louis Dreyfus in merger discussions with Olam

Louis Dreyfus, the family-owned French conglomerate, is in preliminary discussions with supply-chain management company Olam over business collaboration and a possible merger.

Olam made the announcement in a letter to shareholders on 24 September in response to press speculation yesterday concerning Louis Dreyfus. The statement went on to stress that the discussions "are still preliminary" and that "the possible collaboration may not even proceed," the letter read.

If the merger goes ahead, it would create one of the world's largest agricultural traders, with an estimated market value of $15 billion. Singapore-based Olam's shares rose 9% on the back of the announcement. 

Louis Dreyfus, the global commodities, energy, real estate and diversified trader and processor, is in the process of a radical ownership review, according to press speculation 23 September, and it also considering an initial public offering for some of its subsidiaries.

Louis Dreyfus was founded in 1851 and began as a grain trader. The commodities business is still one of the largest with revenues estimated at $35 billion. The company is still privately held and 51% owned by the founding family, according to the Financial Times. 

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