UPDATE 1-CHS expands further into Canada, buys 16 Agrium farm outlets
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 17 (Reuters) - U.S. farm co-operative CHS Inc said on Monday it has agreed to buy 16 Canadian farm retail outlets from Agrium Inc , and plans to further expand its business in Canada.
The deal includes eight stores that sell seed, chemicals and fertilizer to farmers, as well as eight ammonia tank businesses, located in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the two biggest wheat- and canola-growing Canadian provinces.
The purchase bulks up CHS' modest Canadian holdings, which currently consist of three retail stores and small offices in Winnipeg and Calgary.
The St. Paul, Minnesota-based company is interested in buying or building more farm retail stores, grain-handling sites and fuel sales locations in Canada, said John McEnroe, executive vice-president of CHS country operations.
"Anything that touches the farmer, we would be interested in looking at," he said in an interview. "There's a good argument that instead of a Canadian market and a U.S. market for agricultural commodities, it could be a North American market.
"As the border blurs, we see the opportunity for Canada to grow for us."
CHS' interest in Canada grew with the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's grain marketing monopoly in 2012 and the once-powerful farmer-owned grain pools over the past decade, McEnroe said. Continued...