Agrium to cut 500 jobs, sell some businesses

Wed Nov 5, 2014 1:31pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG Manitoba (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer producer Agrium Inc will cut 500 jobs and look to sell several noncore businesses as it aims to find $475 million in savings by 2017, Chief Executive Chuck Magro said on Wednesday.

Agrium will also target savings from reducing working capital at its farm retail business and trimming operating and administrative expenses.

Fellow fertilizer producers Potash Corp of Saskatchewan and Mosaic Co have already started deep cost-cutting programs as profits decline after the price of potash fell to a six-year low earlier this year. Weak grain prices have also dampened spending by U.S. farmers on fertilizer.

Among the businesses Agrium will try to sell are its micronutrients and European UAN (urea-ammonium nitrate) lines.

"These are not core to our strategy," Magro said at the company’s annual investor day in Toronto. “We have better uses for our capital.”

Agrium shares were up 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent respectively in Toronto and New York at midday. Shares of Potash Corp and Mosaic also rose.

The stock has climbed about 15 percent in Toronto since activist investor ValueAct Capital disclosed on Oct. 24 that it had bought a 5.7 percent stake in Agrium.

While the Calgary, Alberta, company cuts costs, other expenses are climbing.   Continued...