DuPont, Cargill Monitoring Ukraine as Insurgency Intensifies

Feb 20, 2014 9:58 am ET

(Updates with DuPont comment in sixth paragraph. For more on the crisis in Ukraine, click EXT2 <GO>.)

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Cargill Inc. and DuPont Co. are monitoring the unrest in Ukraine, the world’s third-largest corn exporter, as an anti-government insurgency intensifies.

Cargill’s grain-export operations haven’t been affected, its Kiev office remains open and no workers have been directly affected, 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.

The number of dead in Ukraine increased as renewed violence broke out today in the country’s capital after the end of a truce declared last night between President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders. As many as 35 people have died, according to the Kyiv Post. 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.

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 it bought a 5 percent stake in Kiev-based Ukrlandfarming Plc, Ukraine’s biggest agricultural producer.

Dow Chemical

DuPont is watching developments “closely,” Jane Slusark, a spokeswoman for the Wilmington, Delaware-based company, said today in an e-mail. Last year DuPont’s Pioneer seed unit opened a $40 million plant in the country serving the corn and sunflower markets.

Dow Chemical Co., the world’s largest producer of chlorine and maker of agricultural products, has a “small commercial presence” in Ukraine and all its employees safe, the company said in an e-mail.

“As we do wherever there is civil unrest, we have contingency plans in place with escalation protocols to ensure personnel safety,” Dow said.

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.

ADM, Glencore

Agricultural commodity processor Bunge Ltd., 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., 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, the Swiss commodity producer and trader, has storage facilities and crushing and farming assets in the country, according to a presentation on its website.

Charles Watenphul, a Glencore spokesman, and Jackie Anderson, an ADM spokeswoman, both declined to comment on the situation in Ukraine. Susan Burns, a Bunge spokeswoman, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

--With assistance from Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney and Jack Kaskey in Houston. Editors: Simon Casey, Steven Frank