Glencore Plc announced on 8 June that it has agreed to sell a 9.99% stake in its agriculture unit to Canada’s British Columbia Investment Management Corp (bcIMC) for US$624.9M.

This leaves Glencore with a majority 50.01% stake in Glencore Agri, valued at US$6.25bn.

The move follows its sale of a 40% stake to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for US$2.5bn two months ago in April.

“These transactions highlight the superior value of Glencore Agri, with its advantaged asset footprint and business model, relative to its closest peers,” said Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg.

The Swiss-based commodities and trading firm has been selling assets to cut debt, and has sold US$3.2bn of assets this year. Its target is to reduce debt to as low as US$17-18bn this year, compared with US$25.9bn at the end of 2015.

Glencore became a major agriculture player when it agreed to buy Canadian grain handler Viterra Inc. for C$6.1 billion (US$4.6 billion) in 2012, says Bloomberg.

With a global network of more than 200 storage facilities and 23 ports, the company buys products from farmers, processors and other suppliers and sells to customers including local importers and government agencies. It handles wheat, corn, barley, biofuels, cotton and sugar.

"Our investment in Glencore Agri provides an excellent opportunity for bcIMC to increase and diversify our exposure within the agricultural space, a sector we view as critical to supporting rising levels of global prosperity," Lincoln Webb, a senior vice-president at BCIMC said. The pension fund has about C$124 billion (US$98bn) in assets under management.