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Romanian farmers agree to buy Tereos sugar factory

PARIS/BUCHAREST, Oct 13 (Reuters) - French sugar maker Tereos said on Thursday it had reached an agreement with a group of Romanian farmers to sell its local sugar business, less than a month after saying it would close the factory because talks with a potential buyer had failed.

"We have an agreement in principle with a group of farmers for them to take over the Romanian business," a Tereos spokesperson told Reuters, confirming information in local media.

Tereos has been trying to sell its loss-making Romanian activities for more than a year as part of a wider deleveraging strategy.

The factory, located in Ludus, is one of Romania's two last-remaining sugar processing plants. It has suffered from a steady reduction in the amount of land planted with sugar in the country.

It had a capacity of 60,000 tonnes of sugar but had strongly reduced volumes in the past years, the Tereos spokesperson said. Its final closure had been planned for the beginning of 2023.

"The first step has been made, we are on the right path and the factory will reopen," Teodor Aflat, who farms on 8,000 hectares in the central Romanian county of Sibiu, was quoted saying by state news agency Agerpres.

The company interested in buying Tereos' plant before talks collapsed was Romanian group Scandia Food, which is actively looking at potential acquisitions to consolidate its business.

Chief Executive Andrei Ursulescu told Reuters at the time Scandia Food wanted to see the factory in production to conduct an assessment and that the price Tereos asked was relatively prohibitive. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie in Bucharest and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by David Evans)

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