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Eversheds Sutherland advises consortium of global businesses on transformational Blockchain platform for agricultural commodities

Eversheds Sutherland has advised a consortium of global businesses on the establishment of a joint venture and the design and roll-out of a transformational platform for supply chain operations in the agricultural commodities sector.

The platform will be managed by Covantis, a company co-owned by the founding members – ADM, Bunge, Cargill, COFCO, Louis Dreyfus Company and Viterra. 

In 2018, a group of leading global agribusinesses came together with a shared goal of employing cutting-edge digital technology to modernise global agricultural post-trade execution processes for the benefit of the entire industry.

The platform’s initial scope covers the shipment and execution of bulk commodities (such as corn and soybeans) from Brazil to any worldwide destination, optimising export trade execution processes by connecting shippers, traders and charterers.

Covantis will continue to invest in building new capabilities that increase value for its clients from origin to destination, thus creating a global network for the efficient execution of bulk commodities trade operations.

Craig Rogers, Partner from Eversheds Sutherland, said:

“We worked very closely with the consortium legal and delivery teams over the past two years, first in London and Geneva and (since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic) as a virtual team.

As with any first-of-a-kind solution, there are no playbooks or precedents. We worked collaboratively with the consortium and their partners to design an agile contractual model which enables Covantis to respond to evolving customer expectations, but at the same time deploy a secure and resilient platform for the global supply chain in agricultural commodities. 

This is a solution which will trigger a fundamental shift in the market for the foodstuffs which are the raw-ingredients for the meals on breakfast and dinner tables around the World.  We have formed great professional and personal relationships along the way and it has been a fantastic project to be involved in.”

Milijana Zaric, Head of Legal and Compliance of Covantis said:

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It is a thrilling moment; we are delighted to witness the successful launch of the Covantis platform. The team went through a long voyage from identifying the essential needs of the market and shaping the idea to building a secure and reliable digital platform. The Covantis team worked closely with consortium legal and the Eversheds Sutherland team on a wide range of legal and regulatory aspects for the establishment of a fully functioning and independent JV including advice on corporate and anti-trust matters and the contracts with our technology partners.”

The Eversheds Sutherland team was led by Craig Rogers and Senior Associate David Murray on the technology aspects of the matter, with support from Principal Associate Penn Jarvis on privacy.  Partner Robin Johnson led on the corporate aspects with support from Partner Oliver Beldi, Legal Director Sandra Boegli in Switzerland and Senior Associate Jonathan Wharam in the UK.   

Partner and Head of Eversheds Sutherland’s Competition, EU and Trade Group, Ros Kellaway, led on the anti-trust components with support from Partner Peter Harper, Principal Associate Claire Morgan, and others from across the firm’s global network. The team also advised on the competition aspects, bank guarantees, and the establishment of the Swiss Joint Venture vehicle (Covantis) which will operate the platform.

Eversheds Sutherland’s work with the Covantis consortium over the past two years demonstrates its ability to deliver complex, global projects, managing the competing interests of stakeholders, and advising on break-through technology solutions.

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