UPDATE 1-ADM expects GrainCorp deal by year-end, new Australian govt key

Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:15pm EDT
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* ADM aiming for year-end completion for $2.8 bln takeover

* New Australian govt seen approving plan despite opposition

* Australian regulator seldom blocks deals,

By Tom Polansek and Jackie Range

CHICAGO/SYDNEY, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Archer Daniels Midland Co said it expects to complete its acquisition of Australian grain handler GrainCorp Ltd by the end of the year, as it hangs on approvals from Australia's new government and other regulators.

Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board is expected to approve the A$3.0 billion ($2.8 billion) deal after it had been held up by the country's general election earlier this month, which was won by the business-friendly conservative opposition.

The deal is the first test of new Prime Minister Tony Abbott's commitment to keep Australia "open for business" in the face of strong opposition from some of his rural-based colleagues, who fear the country is selling off the farm.

"We're very anxious to put that (GrainCorp) as part of our family and part of our portfolio," ADM Chief Executive Patricia Woertz told business leaders in Chicago on Wednesday, reiterating the previously announced timeline.

ADM's planned purchase of GrainCorp, announced in April, is the latest move in the rapid consolidation of the global grains sector amid intense competition to feed fast-developing countries like China.   Continued...