The Company started its grain and agro-trading activities in the Black Sea region in 1996. Mr. James Kelley, together with Mr. Vaja Jhashi, a US citizen and then Vice President of the Company, launched the agro-business activities in the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
Since the beginning, the Company has been a leader in the origination and trading of grains and oilseeds in the Black Sea region. Over the years, the Company has developed an impressive global network of clients, specifically focusing on regions of Europe, the Southern Mediterranean, Turkey, and North/West Africa, which still constitute the Company's main sales destinations today.
In the 2000’s, the Company began to transition from a small successful trading house to a vertically integrated corporation owning storage facilities, crushing plants, port terminals, and operating its own farming division. In order to achieve this, the Group has managed to constantly grow and expand its operations.
In 2004, the company moved its financial headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland. All of the company's assets were consolidated in a new Swiss entity, Trans Oil International SA, which became the group's Swiss trading branch and handled all overseas operations. Trans Oil International SA quickly became a leader in the international agro commodities market, trading grains originating not only from the Republic of Moldova but from all parts of the Black Sea region, including Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. Additionally, during this period, the group began to develop strong and lasting relationships with leading Swiss banking and commodity finance institutions.
In 2009, the company began to develop crucial infrastructure in the Republic of Moldova. As Moldova was landlocked, with no direct access to vessel loading ports, the group decided to bring the local infrastructure to a new level by pioneering the construction of Moldova's first grain loading terminal in Giurjulesti International Free Port.
The facility is located on the Danube River in southern Moldova. This initiative was viewed not only as necessary for the company from a trading standpoint, but also as significantly beneficial to Moldova's overall economic well-being. Thanks to its successful completion, this facility serves as the main platform for Moldovan grains and vegetable oils to access the international markets.
In 2010, the Group launched a Greenfield project to construct a multipurpose oilseed crushing and extraction plant in Southern Moldova, capable of crushing up to 400 metric tons of sunflower seeds per day.
Support for this project came from major international finance organizations and Western governments.
In 2011, the Group acquired the Moldovan operations of WJ Group, its biggest competitor. This acquisition included a crushing plant with refining and bottling divisions located in Balti, Moldova, which has the capacity to crush 1,000 MT of sunflower seeds per day.
Furthermore, the Group also acquired five storage silos and 84 collection points throughout the country.
In 2014, the Group successfully upgraded the press/preparation division of the Balti crushing plant, increasing the crushing capacity by 200 MT of sunflower seeds per day and resulting in substantial energy savings. This revealed the necessity to upgrade the extraction division in order to match the press division capacity and to obtain the following benefits: increased efficiency due to less resources spent per each produced unit; reduced emissions and pollution due to improved efficiency and new technology; and available/spare resources as a result of increased efficiency.
Additionally, the Group installed a new biomass high-pressure steam boiler, replacing the existing units which had used natural gas. This new boiler is capable of servicing crushing activities and electricity production simultaneously, resulting in cost savings and reduced emissions, which is important to the Group's strategy to protect the environment.
The Group commenced the new extraction project in 2015 and plans to launch the new division in 2017 using top-notch solvent extraction equipment manufactured by Europa Crown Limited.
In 2016, the group announced the expansion of its grain export terminal in Giurgiulesti International Free Port. As a result, the group is able to load more than 1,000 tons of grains per hour onto maritime vessels or river barges, the fastest loading rate of any grain terminal in the region.
The expansion project consisted of the construction of an additional berth on the Danube, the construction of a silo with a storage capacity of 12,000 tons, and a brand new deep-water jetty. The expanded facility has a total grain storage capacity of 70,000 tons and a transshipment capacity of over 1.3 million tons of grains per annum, which is equivalent to about 75% of the Republic of Moldova's annual grain exports.
In January 2018, The "Floarea Soarelui" became a member of International Sunflower Oils Association (ISOA)
In May 2018, The "Floarea Soarelui" is the largest producer of sunflower oil in Moldova. The factory has significantly increased its production capacity as a result of the installation of a new, modern oil extraction division. Construction of the division has been fully completed in May 2018. The production capacity of the new workshop supports overall processing capacity of up to 1200 tons of sunflower seeds per day or more than 300 thousand tons per year. The new equipment was supplied and installed by "EuropaCrown" Ltd Company. - One of the world’s leading equipment providers.
"Floarea Soarelui" factory has also successfully launched a new boiler house that allows for switching to an autonomous and environmentally friendly fuel. The production of oil requires steam treatment. This boiler house produces 25 tons of steam per hour with a pressure of 3.9 Pa and a temperature of 410 degrees Celsius. The boiler house works completely on husks, which are produced as a byproduct of sunflower seed crushing. Investments in the construction and equipment of the new boiler house amounted to $2.5 million. The project was implemented partially with participation of MOSEF and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
In July 2018, The first stage of the unique pneumatic equipment for cereals and oilseeds was completed. It is a unique project for Moldova and for the entire Black sea region.
The 1st Stage of the pneumatic grain feeding line is 515 meters long with a capacity of 250 tons per hour and will unite both of the terminals of the TRANS OIL group at the Giurgiulesti port.
In April 2019, Trans-Oil Group (Aragvi Holding International Ltd) successfully priced a US$300 million Eurobond at par and with a maturity of April 9, 2024. The bond was a debut for the company and also for the country. The offering received strong international interest from European and US investors. The bonds were officially listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. Citibank Global Markets, Renaissance Securities and UBS AG acted as joint lead managers and bookrunners for the US$ Rule 144A/Regulation S (Reg S)
In June 2019, The Oaktree Capital Management (OCM) acquired a minority interest in Aragvi Holding International Ltd (the parent company of Trans-Oil Group), thus becoming a shareholder of Trans-Oil Group. Oaktree Capital Management is a leading American global asset management firm specializing in alternative investment (including private equity) with over 120 Billion USD of assets under management. This is the first corporate investment done by a major US global asset management firm in the Republic of Moldova. This comes after another first for the country: the successful issue of a 300 million USD Eurobond in April 2019.
In April 2021, the Group successfully tendered its US$300 million Eurobond and issued a US$400 million one (with 2 consecutive taps of US$50 each) with maturity of April 2026. The offering received a strong interest from investors and was 5X oversubscribed. The notes were listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. Citi, Renaissance Capital and ING acted as joint lead managers and bookrunners for the US 144A/Reg S issue.
In June 2021, the Group acquired the largest oilseeds processing plant in Serbia – VictoriaOil, located in Sid. The EUR 55 million transaction has been financed by AIK Banka and secured the leading position on the Serbian oilseeds market. The processing capacity of the plant is 1’200 MT per day and the plant is the most technically advanced facility in the region.
In December 2021, the Group acquired the largest grains & logistics business in Serbia. A chain of 33 silos with a capacity of over 300 thousand MT and 2 port terminals on Danube-river, with a throughput capacity of over 3.5 million MT, have been acquired in a EUR 49-million transaction. By this acquisition, Trans-Oil became the largest player in the soft commodities business in Serbia.