October 7, 2011 / 3:23 AM / 6 years ago

Agrium keen to build on AWB acquisition for expansion

<p>The Australian Wheat Board (AWB) logo is seen on a building in Perth February 13, 2006 photograph. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne</p>

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer maker and farm products retailer Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) (AGU.N) is keen to build on its acquisition of Australia’s AWB to expand further in Asia, a top company official said on Friday.

Agrium, the largest North American farm products retailer, bought AWB Ltd, Australia’s top bulk wheat exporter, last year for A$1.2 billion ($1.17 billion).

“They are keen to build on this, in both the retailing and fertilizer sectors, more broadly in Asia,” Agrium’s Asia-Pacific Managing Director Philip Gentry told a business lunch.

Agrium retained AWB’s prized Landmark farm retail outlets, but sold the commodity management business to Cargill Inc CARG.UL.

Gentry told reporters afterwards that Agrium was focused on the Landmark business, and was not currently eyeing fresh acquisitions in Australia.

“Sure we are intending to do more in this part of the world, whether that is investments or greenfields opportunities. Some opportunities may simply include selling more Agrium products into China,” he said. Agrium has an office in China.

Gentry said global population growth would keep food prices rising over the medium term, but he declined to give an outlook for fertilizer prices.

Surging grain prices have boosted demand for crop nutrients, seeds and crop protection chemicals this year, boosting quarterly profit at Agrium and lifting revenues 40 percent in the second quarter.

Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; Editing by Michael Smith

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