Company News

RPT-UPDATE 1-Canada's Competition Bureau probing agriculture companies

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Feb 6 (Reuters) - The Canadian Competition Bureau said on Thursday it was investigating certain agriculture companies for alleged anti-competitive practices.

The regulator did not provide details on specific companies involved in the probe, but the Wall Street Journal reported that Bayer AG, Corteva Inc and BASF were among those that were being investigated over allegations of trying to block an online farm-supply startup.

The regulator also said it had filed applications with the Federal Court of Canada, seeking records and communications from the companies that were part of the probe.

The civil inquiry follows a complaint to the agency from California-based online retailer Farmers Business Network Inc(FBN), according to the Journal.

The seed, pesticide and wholesaling companies allegedly stopped supplying FBN’s newly acquired Canadian business in 2018, and some company officials urged farmers and others in the industry not to do business with the company, the WSJ reported.

Founded in 2014, FBN is developing an online marketplace that allows farmers to order pesticides, seed and other agricultural supplies.

Farm-supply wholesalers, including Cargill Inc and Univar Solutions Inc, were also being probed, the WSJ reported.

U.S. seeds and agricultural chemicals maker Corteva said it was aware of CCB’s investigation and that it was reviewing the inquiry and intends to fully cooperate with the regulator.

Bayer also said it was cooperating with the regulator.

“We believe the actions we took in this matter fully comply with Canada’s competition law,” Bayer said.

BASF and Cargill were not immediately available for Reuters’ request for comment. (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar and Shanti Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)