Agrium sees owning Viterra farm stores early next year

Calgary fertilizer giant Agrium expects to close its $575 million purchase of farm retail stores from grain handler Viterra in the first quarter of 2013, after Glencore completes its takeover of Viterra, Agrium CEO Mike Wilson said Wednesday.

Swiss commodity firm Glencore International’s takeover of Viterra has been delayed until as late as Dec. 10 as the companies await one final regulatory approval, from China’s ministry of commerce.

Assuming the Glencore-Viterra deal closes as scheduled, Agrium will file for a review by Canada’s Competition Bureau in late December and hopes to close the deal late in the first quarter, Wilson said.

Agrium would get 232 Canadian farm retail outlets — where it would sell seed, chemicals and fertilizer to farmers — as well as 17 stores in Australia.

"It’s just going to be a great, great deal for us," Wilson said at a Dahlman Rose investor conference in New York that was broadcast on the Internet.

Agrium is under pressure from its biggest shareholder, Jana Partners, to spin off the retail division.

Related stories:
Agrium refuses investor demand to spin off retail, Aug. 15, 2012
Viterra takeover now put off to mid-December, Nov. 9, 2012