Russian agribusiness group Aston says it has acquired a controlling stake in the Millerovo oil extraction plant in the Rostov region, which, after modernisation, will be used to increase the company's foothold in the edible oils sector.In an interview with Interfax, the company said that the deal was finalized at the end of 2003 and that, although the exact size of the stake and the financial terms of the deal could not be disclosed, the plan was to build on it existing investment of RUR500 million (€14.3m) in the facility which paid off existing debts and bought new materials, the company source said..
The company now intends to continue to supply the plant with raw materials and says that eventually it hopes the supply will be increased to feed rising production. Ultimately this will be fuelled by a concerted sales and marketed drive by the company.
Currently the processing capacity at the plant is 150,000 tons of sunflower seeds a year. However combined with its recently constructed Volshebny Kray plant this pushes the company's annual capacity up to 500,000 tons, making it the largest East European player in the raw vegetable oil market and giving it a 15 per cent share in the domestic market.
Aston says that plans to modernize the Rostov facility will be drawn up at its next general shareholder meeting, where the focus will be on how to boost efficiency and cut costs at the plant. The company said that old equipment will be replaced by modern production equipment compliant with global standards within the sector - objectives which the company is striving for in all of its operations.
Aston has divisions throughout the Ukraine and Russia in various areas of the agro-food sector, including the processing of grains and vegetable oils and the granulating of oilseed meal and bran.