Australian rice business SunRice, a takeover target of Spanish food group Ebro Foods, plans to re-open a mill in New South Wales next year.

The prospect of a “strong crop” in 2011 has led SunRice to recommission the site in Deniliquin, SunRice chairman Gerry Lawson said.

“The Deniliquin mill is not only SunRice’s largest and most sophisticated mill, it is one of the largest rice mills in the world,” he said on Monday (1 November). “To see this magnificent plant in operation again and employing local people is the outcome that we’d always hoped for when we made the difficult decision to close the mill.”

The site was temporarily closed in 2008 after six years of drought. SunRice said the processing of paddy would start in April, with around 90 jobs created.

SunRice, which has annual sales of A$800m (US$798.7m), has attracted a A$600m takeover offer from Ebro. The two sides are in final talks, with Ebro conducting due diligence, and the companies expect to finalise a deal this month.

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