Japanese trading and investment conglomerate Marubeni Corporation has agreed to invest and acquire shares in Swiss-based digital blockchain start-up Covantis.

In an announcement on 15 December, Marubeni said the deal would be finalised subject to regulatory approval.

Geneva-based Covantis was formed in March 2020 to provide a digital trading platform for bulk agri-commodities and became operational early last year. Its founding members are ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Cofco Corporation, Louis Dreyfus Company and Viterra.

“International bulk commodities trading, including grain and oilseed, requires complicated business workflows including preparing, exchanging, and confirming many physical documents like contracts or certificates between multiple parties throughout the supply chain from supplier to buyer,” Marubeni Corporation CEO (Food, Agriculture & Chemicals Group) Akira Terakawa said.

“The issue at stake is to improve efficiency, accuracy and transparency in the industry.”

Covantis CEO Petya Sechanova said the company’s network had expanded significantly since its launch and it now had 24 clients, over 80 legal entities and hundreds of customers who used the platform for cross-border trading.

“Welcoming Marubeni to our shareholders’ group will enable us to continue investing in new capabilities, expanding to new origin and destination markets, and new commodities,” he said.

Subject to regulatory approvals and upon closing of the transaction Marubeni Corporation will acquire equal ownership and rights as the initial shareholders of Covantis.

Marubeni is a major Japanese integrated trading and investment business conglomerate that handles products and provides services in a broad range of sectors including agribusiness, chemicals, energy, forest products, lifestyle, metals & mineral resources and real estate.