(Bloomberg) — Just over a year ago, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus’ financial outlook looked bleak.
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The Russian-born heiress was trying to sell a stake in Louis Dreyfus Co., one of the world’s largest agricultural commodity trading companies, after borrowing more than $1 billion from Credit Suisse Group AG to redeem family members. More than $400 million in debt was coming due by the end of 2020.
Since then, Louis-Dreyfus, 59, has sold 45% of Louis Dreyfus Co. to an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, and the company has profited from volatility and rising agricultural commodity prices during the pandemic. .
Read more: Louis Dreyfus profits jump on rising prices and volatility
Its main holding company, Akira BV, received a dividend of $52 million in May and another $405 million on the day the deal closed in September, according to filings this month. His net worth has risen to $3.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Her latest installment could help ease her debt burden after she borrowed to buy out her in-laws and honor her late husband’s wish to preserve the closely held business enterprise for his heirs. Although the price for the Abu Dhabi sale was not disclosed, people familiar with the matter said when it was announced in 2020 that it was roughly based on the company’s book value.
A representative for Rotterdam-based Louis Dreyfus Co. declined to comment.
It was a dramatic period for Louis-Dreyfus, who now lives in Switzerland. She inherited a stake in the trading house after the death in 2009 of her husband Robert, a great-grandson of the founder and the person who turned the 171-year-old business around in the early 2000s.
In 2011, she became chairman of the company’s holding company and often paid high prices to increase her stake from around 50% at the time of Robert’s death to 96% in November 2020.
She has increasingly used dividends in recent years to help pay off loans and has pledged some of her shares in Louis Dreyfus Co. against debt. Its stake sale to Abu Dhabi’s ADQ opened the family business to outside ownership for the first time.
Louis-Dreyfus told Swiss business magazine Bilanz in November 2020 that she planned to use part of the proceeds from this sale to settle her debts with Credit Suisse.
In September, Akira opened a new line of credit with the Swiss bank and drew $240.7 million. Another family holding company, Ruethiers, owed $65 million to creditors at the end of 2020, with most of it due after more than a year, according to filings.
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