NAM 0.70% 71.0¢ namoi cotton limited

(Adds comments in paragraphs 6-10 on outlook, takeover bidding,...

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    (Adds comments in paragraphs 6-10 on outlook, takeover bidding, EU deforestation law)

    PARIS, March 21 (Reuters) - Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) remains positive about Chinese demand as a source of growth for agricultural markets, despite rebalancing in other parts of the Asian nation's economy, the CEO of the global commodity merchant told Reuters on Thursday.

    China is the world's biggest buyer of farm goods, but slowing economic growth and a real-estate crisis have raised doubts about its commodity demand.

    "China has a level of rebalancing going on at this point, predominantly in other sectors. But as related to the agricultural sector, we're still quite confident and bullish China," Michael Gelchie said in an interview after the release of LDC's annual results.

    Cereal and oilseed imports in China will remain near record highs this year, encouraged by lower global prices and a domestic crop shortfall, according to traders and analysts.

    China has been a focus of investments for LDC as the company looks to combine bulk handling of staple crops with a greater presence in food manufacturing.

    LDC's

    profits

    last year held close to bumper 2022 levels despite falling commodity prices. Gelchie declined to give a financial outlook for this year, but said the group was in a "solid position" to continue expanding through organic growth and acquisitions.

    Gelchie said LDC is considering its options after Singapore-based Olam Agri announced on Thursday an

    indicative offer

    for Australia's Namoi Cotton above a previous deal

    agreed

    between LDC and Namoi.

    Regarding European Union rules on deforestation due to take effect next year, it "probably makes sense" to give actors in the supply chain more time to implement a requirement to prove imported agricultural goods do not cause deforestation, he said.

    LDC is well-advanced in complying with the so-called EUDR legislation, particularly for soybeans and coffee, as part of a commitment to reach zero deforestation in 2025, but to ensure the standards were adopted widely timing would be key, Gelchie added.

    Faced with criticism from companies and exporting countries, sources have said the EU could implement the rules more

    gradually

    	.                    
 
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