Cargill finalized the sale of its malt business to Boortmalt, a subsidiary of France's largest grain cooperative Axéréal, the companies announced Monday.
Terms of the deal, which was first announced in December, were not disclosed. The core function of the business is to source malting barley and turn that crop into malt that's used to make beer.
The purchase effectively doubles Boortmalt's size, making it the world's leading malt producer. The French company is taking over Cargill's 15 malting plants in nine countries and all 600 of its malt employees.
Minnetonka-based Cargill's malt business can produce 1.7 million metric tons of malt a year. With this purchase, Boortmalt now has a production capacity of 3 million metric tons at a total of 27 malting plants.
"Such a takeover offers us new growth prospects and will enable us to better mitigate risks, particularly those linked to climate change," Yvan Schaepman, chief executive of Boortmalt, said in a news release. "It also allows us to accelerate the development of new malting barley varieties and to create new malts."
For its part, Cargill said in December that it is shedding its malt business to better focus on its other food and beverage ingredients. Cargill has been malting since 1979. The company's malt scientists often work with beer companies to develop formulas for meeting their brewing specifications.
Cargill shuttered its malt facility near Jamestown, N.D., one of its three North America plants, last year. The company cited falling demand for six-row barley, which is mainly what farmers in western Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota grow.
Production at Cargill's North Dakota plant mirrored the decline in demand for six-row malt.
The acquisition will give Boortmalt access to North American production at its Sheboygan, Wis., and Biggar, Saskatchewan, facilities.