Saskatchewan seeks conditions on Glencore's Viterra bid

Fri May 11, 2012 5:09pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The Western Canadian province of Saskatchewan said on Friday it wants Ottawa to impose conditions on Swiss-based Glencore's C$6.1 billion ($6.1 billion) takeover bid for the country's top grain handler, Viterra Inc, which is headquartered in Saskatchewan.

The federal Conservative government must decide whether the foreign takeover is of net benefit to the country. The independent Competition Bureau is also examining Glencore International Plc's plans to sell parts of Viterra to Agrium Inc and Richardson International Ltd.

The deal would make Glencore, already the world's biggest diversified commodities trader, a major player in grains alongside Cargill Inc, Archer Daniels Midland Co, Bunge Ltd and Louis Dreyfus Corp.

Saskatchewan released a report on Friday that it commissioned from Informa Economics, which highlights both the positive and negative implications of the takeover for the province. As a result, Saskatchewan said it will ask Ottawa to impose conditions on Glencore if it decides to approve the deal.

One concern outlined in the report is Glencore's plan to sell most of Viterra's Canadian farm-supply outlets - which offer seed, chemicals and fertilizer to farmers - to Agrium, a major nitrogen producer.

"Glencore has a significant global network that will serve as a market for Saskatchewan farmers and a vehicle for increased economic growth in the province," said Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud. "At the same time, we need to ensure there is no adverse effect on competition in farm inputs."

Saskatchewan also wants Ottawa to ensure Glencore keeps its promises to increase capital spending in Western Canada by C$100 million over five years and to make the provincial capital of Regina the base of its North American agriculture business.

Glencore's C$6.1 billion offer for Viterra, which has most of its grain-handling, processing and farm supply operations in Western Canada, and some in South Australia, is the biggest agriculture sector deal in years.   Continued...

The logo of Glencore is seen in front of the company's headquarters in the Swiss town of Zug May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann