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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Glencore International PLC said on Friday that Canada's Competition Bureau will not stand in the way of its C$6.1-billion ($6.1 billion) takeover bid for top Canadian grain handler Viterra Inc.
The Competition Bureau decision removes one of two major regulatory obstacles to one of the biggest deals in years in the agricultural sector.
Swiss-based Glencore said in a press release that it received a letter on Thursday from the bureau, which operates independently of the government, saying it would not oppose the takeover.
The deal still needs the approval of the Canadian government because it is a foreign takeover. It must also be approved by Viterra shareholders.
Glencore is offering to buy Viterra, which has most of its grain-handling, processing and farm-supply operations in Western Canada, and some in South Australia, and sell off some parts to two Canadian companies, Agrium Inc and privately held Richardson International Ltd.
Agrium would get most of Viterra's retail agri-products business, including its 34 percent stake in Canadian Fertilizer, for which Agrium will pay C$1.8 billion.
Richardson is set to buy 23 percent of Viterra's grain-handling assets as well as certain processing assets in North America for C$900 million.
Viterra's shareholders will vote on May 29 at a special meeting in Calgary, Alberta, on the C$16.25 a share Glencore offer. Viterra's biggest shareholder, Alberta Investment Management Corp, and directors and executives have said they will vote for the deal. Their shares represent 16.5 percent of Viterra.
Officials with the Competition Bureau and Viterra could not be immediately reached for comment.
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Peter Galloway