Brazilian giant buys most of local ethanol marketer

Companies will have combined biofuel capacity of 2.6B gallons

A Brazilian company that's among the world's largest traders of sugar has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Eco-Energy, a Cool Springs-based distributor of ethanol from a network of more than a dozen terminals.

Terms of the transaction, including how much of Eco-Energy Copersucar is buying, have not been made public. Executives at the companies say their combination creates a venture with a capacity of 2.6 billion gallons of biofuels annually that has a big presence in the world's largest ethanol markets, the United States and Brazil. (In the latter, ethanol is produced using sugar cane rather than corn.) For Copersucar, adding Eco-Energy 9 percent U.S. market share gives it access to the country's largest fuel distributors.

"The biofuels industry continues to evolve and expand beyond the borders of North America, and we need to constantly be working to open new markets, while also being in a position to meet the current biofuel requirements domestically," said Eco-Energy CEO Chad Martin in a statement. "This partnership builds on the great platform and team we have created at Eco-Energy and opens up significant opportunity for our producer partners."

Martin did not return phone calls seeking comment about the deal's potential impact on Eco-Energy's local office. Regulators must still sign off on the transaction.

"This investment has a great potential for value creation for all, as it continues and expands operations, supported by its market expertise and strategic alliances," said Copersucar CEO Paulo Roberto de Souza.

Copersucar was created four years ago and now stores, transports and markets the sugar and ethanol production from 48 member mills and about 50 other producers. On a conference call, its executives said they plan to invest $25 million in infrastructure as part of a plan to nearly double their capacity by 2016.