Cargill Inc. and the Brazilian firm Copersucar said Thursday they will combine their global sugar trading activities in a 50-50 joint venture.

Also Thursday, Cargill announced it will close its European power and gas trading business, as well as its global coal business. The closures are due to "significant" changes in those markets, Cargill said in a news release.

Minnetonka-based Cargill, one of the world's largest privately held companies, trades in all sorts of commodities, from grain to sugar to metals.

The new joint venture with Copersucar will originate and trade in raw and white sugar. It will benefit from a large-scale supply of sugar from Copersucar's partner mills in Brazil, as well as sugar from other countries, the companies said in a news release.

The trading activities of the new joint venture will based in Geneva, Switzerland. Cargill's sugar trading business, which has about 180 employees, trades sugar in bags and containers, as well as ethanol. Both companies' fixed sugar assets and ethanol businesses are excluded from the transaction.

Mike Hughlett