Australian competition watchdog clears Viterra bid

Australia’s regulator for corporate competition says it won’t oppose Swiss commodity giant Glencore in its plans to take over Canada’s biggest grain handler.

Given Viterra’s status as one of Australia’s major grain handlers since its own takeover of ABB Grain in 2009, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Australian government must review and approve Glencore’s friendly bid.

The ACCC on Thursday said it will not "intervene or seek to prevent" the takeover, following a similar ruling in May by the commission’s counterparts in Canada and the U.S.

"This is another milestone in the acquisition process, and we are working to conclude the arrangement in a timely manner," Viterra CEO Mayo Schmidt said Thursday.

Glencore on Thursday said the "receipt of the ACCC’s unconditional approval satisfies one of the final conditions to the closure of the proposed transaction."

Remaining "conditions" include the approvals of the Canadian government as per the Investment Canada Act, the Australian government as per that country’s Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act, and the New Zealand Office of Overseas Investment, Glencore said.

Glencore said it will also still "pursue all other regulatory approvals required to complete the transaction."

Other approvals already granted include that of Ontario Superior Court of Justice, as per the Canada Business Corporations Act, and that of Viterra’s shareholders, who voted in favour of the deal at a meeting in Calgary late last month.

Canada’s Competition Bureau still must rule on Glencore’s parallel plans to sell substantial chunks of Viterra’s handling, processing and ag retail assets to two Canadian agribusiness giants, Agrium and Richardson International.

A successful conclusion to those two deals, however, is not a condition of Glencore’s takeover agreement with Viterra.

Related story:
Glencore confirmed as Viterra’s six billion dollar suitor, March 20, 2012

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