Co-op Atlantic to shed feed, grain, ag retail arms

Quebec agrifood giant La Coop federee is expanding its reach in Atlantic Canada with a deal to take over most of Co-op Atlantic’s agribusinesses.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will see La Coop take over Co-op Atlantic’s feed mills at Moncton and at New Minas and Truro, N.S., as well as the Moncton-based co-operative’s farm supply and general merchandising division and its grain brokerage.

Co-op Atlantic, which has been under creditor protection since June, has since been shedding assets in a bid to deal with the organization’s “persistent financial challenges,” and has so far sold its wholesale and retail food and gas businesses to Sobeys and its Co-op Energy assets to fuel retailer CST Canada.

The agribusiness sale to La Coop, which has already received Court of Queen’s Bench approval but still needs to be cleared by the federal Competition Bureau, is expected to close next month, Co-op Atlantic said Tuesday in a release.

Co-op Atlantic CEO Bryan Inglis said the deal is “in the best interests of Co-op Atlantic and its stakeholders, and will help to ensure that the co-operative movement remains within Atlantic Canada, which is great news for the region’s farmers and producers.”

The deal is in keeping with La Coop’s “already well-established relationship with Co-op Atlantic and producers in the Maritimes,” La Coop president Denis Richard said in a separate release. “This will therefore ensure that the tradition of agricultural co-operation with the Atlantic provinces will be followed.”

La Coop, which is already active in grain marketing, farm supply retailing (Unimat) and retail fuel (Sonic), is expected to offer employment to “the majority” of current Co-op Agriculture staff once the deal closes, Co-op Atlantic said.

The Quebec co-operative is “very familiar with this region and we believe will be a good fit for the local farmers and for the family of independently-owned agricultural stores across the region,” Inglis added.

Richard said La Coop would “continue to operate the activities in the sectors acquired and to offer quality agricultural products and services to the farmers in that region and to all current clients.”

Co-op Atlantic last week announced it has also reached a “stalking horse” deal for its stake in Newfoundland-based poultry producer and processor Country Ribbon, with Nova Scotia poultry producer Atlantic Poultry Inc. (API).

The deal allows Co-op Atlantic to continue to seek out better offers for its Country Ribbon stake for 30 days. If no better offer appears, API can close its deal for Country Ribbon, but if a better offer is made, API has the right to come forward with a matching offer within five days or walk away.

Co-op Atlantic’s deal with API also already has court approval, Co-op Atlantic noted. –– Network

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