November 12, 2011 / 2:24 PM / in 6 years

Viterra adds rep from top shareholder to board

TORONTO (Reuters) - Viterra Inc VT.TO has appointed a representative from its largest shareholder as a director less than two weeks after the same investor said the board was poorly equipped to lead Canada’s biggest grain handler.

Regina, Saskatchewan-based Viterra said late on Friday that Brian Gibson had been appointed to its board. Gibson is a senior vice president of public equities with Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCo).

“We are pleased to have representation from our largest shareholder on our board, and we look forward to working with AIMCo and Mr. Gibson to continue to build shareholder value,” Viterra Chairman Thomas Birks said in a statement.

In the same statement, Gibson said he looked forward “to working with Viterra to increase shareholder value. AIMCo remains committed to Viterra’s long-term success.”

On November 1, AIMCo, which holds about 17 percent of Viterra’s shares, issued a rare public rebuke to the company, urging it to shake up its board.

AIMCo had said the company’s recent steps to involve shareholders in changing the board were not sufficient and that it had been expressing its concerns to management and the board privately for the past 18 months.

Viterra acquired ABB Grain of Australia in 2009 with AIMCo’s financing, giving the company a second major grain-collection point to offset weather risks in Western Canada.

AIMCo, the independent investment arm of the Alberta government, has not typically taken on the role of activist shareholder in public. The company manages about C$71 billion ($70.3 billion) in assets on behalf of public sector pensions and government endowments.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson, Editing by Sandra Maler

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