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China's New Hope moves into soybean crushing with Cargill

(Updating with details throughout)

BEIJING, March 4 (Reuters) - Chinese agribusiness group New Hope plans to build its first soybean crushing plant in China's Hebei province in a joint venture with Cargill , its chairman Liu Yonghao said on Saturday.

New Hope and provincial state companies will own 51 percent of the project, which will have a daily capacity of 50,000 tonnes, while U.S. commodity merchant Cargill will hold the remaining 49 percent, he said at a briefing.

The soy crushing industry in China, the world's top soybean buyer, has expanded rapidly in recent years due to rising demand from breeders of livestock from hogs to poultry, although there is significant overcapacity in the sector.

The U.S. government reckons crushing volume of around 76 million tonnes last year was far below the country's capacity.

Liu has built New Hope from a small chicken farm into the country's top animal feed producer, with businesses extending to banking and property and annual sales topping 90 billion yuan ($13.83 billion).

His plans come as New Hope also aims to expand abroad.

In about ten years, international farm products will account for 40 percent of total revenue, up from 10 percent currently, the company is setting up a European headquarters in the Netherlands and will open a U.S. office, he said. The company already has overseas offices in Australia and Singapore.

For its international strategy, Liu said New Hope will mainly build factories in under-developed countries while focusing on acquisitions and partnerships in developed countries.

New Hope is building chicken and pig farms in Vietnam and plans to expand investment in countries with large populations like Indonesia, Liu said. For example, the company is considering sending its beef products in Australia to markets in southeast Asia, Liu told reporters at the briefing.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Alexander Smith)