Sugar Producer in Asset Merger Talks

Razgulyai, the country's third-largest sugar producer, is in talks with rivals to merge assets and close down inefficient refineries as the country prepares for a fall in next year's sugar beet crop.

General Director Alexander Soldatov said Razgulyai was in frequent contact with the country's top producers, including market leader Prodimex Group, about consolidation in the sugar sector, but crisis-hit banks were not yet prepared to finance deals.

"All the major players are planning to participate in this process, but the banks are not ready to finance it," Soldatov said Wednesday.

"The idea is not to create a monopoly on prices. This will never happen. Rather, it's to close small and inefficient refineries to be more competitive."

The European Union last month overtook Russia as the world's largest raw sugar buyer as a result of a one-quarter drop in Russian imports this year and price-slashing reforms in the EU.