* Expects purchase of Viterra assets to close Feb-March
* Will become one of two biggest W. Canada grain handlers
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Canadian grain-handler Richardson International Ltd expects to get Competition Bureau approval for its purchase of some Viterra Inc assets by the end of the year, Richardson President Curt Vossen told Reuters on Friday.
Glencore International Plc's C$6 billion ($6 billion) acquisition of Viterra, Canada's biggest gain handler, has cleared its final regulatory hurdle and is expected to close Dec. 17, setting the stage for Glencore to trigger previously arranged sales of some Viterra assets to Richardson, Agrium Inc and CF Industries Holdings Inc.
Vossen said Canada's Competition Bureau has already had extensive discussions with Richardson, a privately held Winnipeg, Manitoba company.
"We're feeling generally pretty confident that it will get approval pretty much in totality," Vossen said in an interview. "I'm not getting a sense that there is going to be a wholesale concern by the Competition Bureau."
Assuming the regulator approves the deal by year's end, Richardson's transaction with Glencore should close as early as Feb. 1 or as late as March, he said.
Richardson intends to buy 23 percent of Viterra's grain-handling assets and certain processing assets in North America, for C$900 million. The deal would leave Richardson and Glencore with roughly one-third each of Western Canada's grain-handling capacity, and establish them as the two biggest players.