UPDATE 1-Agrium sees opportunities as seed, chemical companies talk mergers

Wed Jun 8, 2016 12:31pm EDT
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(Recasts with CEO comments about mergers)

By Rod Nickel

June 8 (Reuters) - Agrium Inc, North America's largest retail seller of products for crop farming, could benefit if some of the biggest makers of seed and agricultural chemicals merge, Chief Executive Chuck Magro said on Wednesday.

Responding to a question during a company investor day in Toronto about how possible tie-ups of ChemChina and Syngenta AG or Bayer AG and Monsanto Co could affect Agrium, Magro said assets could become available if the companies need to raise capital or satisfy anti-trust concerns.

"We're watching the situation carefully," he said. "From a consolidation perspective, this is healthy and normal, as part of the industry ... There could be some very good opportunities."

The company would be interested in proprietary seed or chemicals that fit its portfolio, Magro said. Many of the big producers are already suppliers of Agrium's farm retail stores.

Bayer made an unsolicited $62 billion offer for Monsanto in May, aiming to create the world's biggest agricultural supplier. Monsanto turned it down but said it was open to further talks.

Shareholders in Swiss pesticides maker Syngenta have a deadline of July 18 to accept a $43 billion takeover bid from state-owned ChemChina.

Agrium is also looking for acquisitions of more retail stores and plans to claim a quarter of the U.S. market over time, up from its current leading share of 17 percent.

Agrium intends to build 10 to 30 stores in the region by 2020, Magro said. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Alan Crosby)