Cargill has an agreement to sell its petroleum trading business to Australia-based Macquarie Group for an undisclosed price, the latest in a series of divestitures the company has made in the past two years.

The business being sold trades crude oil and refined products, and employs about 140 people at offices in Geneva, Houston, Shanghai, Singapore and Hopkins. Less than a quarter of Cargill's oil trading employees are in Hopkins, and Macquarie intends to maintain an office in the Minneapolis area, said Lisa Clemens, a Cargill spokeswoman.

Minnetonka-based Cargill, the nation's largest privately held company, has been pruning its vast portfolio of businesses as it seeks to cut costs and increase efficiencies. At the same time, it's been investing more money into core businesses it wants to build, particularly the production of chocolate and feed for aquaculture, essentially underwater farming to fill the global appetite for fish.

Cargill began a strategic review of its petroleum trading business last summer, concluding it needed additional capital to "reach its full potential," Clemens said. It launched the petroleum trading desk in 1988.

Cargill will continue operating in the energy industry through its financial risk management business, which offers hedging strategies that include oil and petroleum-based derivatives. The company also has a trading business that focuses on the electric and natural gas power industries.

Reuters reported earlier this month that Macquarie was planning to buy Cargill's oil trading business, while both Reuters and industry publication SparkSpread reported in January that Cargill's gas and electric power trading group had been purchased by another firm. A deal for that group, however, has yet to be announced.

Clemens said Cargill has also undertaken a strategic review of its power trading group, but she declined to say if it's up for sale. Cargill's power trading business is primarily located in Houston, but also has offices in Hopkins and Calgary, Alta.

Macquarie is a global financial company that employs 13,800 people in 27 countries. Cargill, an agribusiness colossus, employs 150,000 in 70 countries.