March 19, 2012 / 3:43 PM / in 6 years

Viterra says in exclusive sale talks with suitor

* Does not identify suitor

* Viterra shares up more than half since March 9

March 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s biggest grain handler, Viterra , said on Monday it was in exclusive talks with a prospective buyer.

Viterra didn’t identify the suitor, but industry sources have said Swiss-based commodities trader Glencore is developing a bid that would involve Canadian grain handler Richardson International Ltd and farm retailer Agrium Inc.

Shares of the Regina, Saskatchewan-based company have climbed by nearly half since March 9, when Viterra said it had received expressions of interest from third parties.

Winning Viterra would give a company access to Canada’s canola, spring wheat, durum and oat supplies, just as the Canadian Wheat Board’s marketing monopoly over wheat and barley is set to end later this year.

Trading of Viterra shares in Toronto was halted pending the company’s statement.

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