WINNIPEG (Reuters) — Canadian regulators have approved Glencore Xstrata PLC’s sale of Viterra farm retail stores to Agrium Inc. in a deal that will make Agrium the dominant farm retailer in Canada.
Agrium, already the biggest U.S. retail seller of fertilizer, chemicals and seed, will get 210 stores across Western Canada from Glencore in a deal that was approved by the federal Competition Bureau.
Agrium chief executive officer Mike Wilson said he expects the company’s “highly attractive” purchase to close within weeks. Terms will be released when the deal closes, he said.
In June, Agrium acquired 13 Viterra locations in Australia.
Swiss commodities trader Glencore bought Viterra last year and kept most of the company’s grain storage and processing sites in Canada and Australia.
It struck side deals to sell some assets to Agrium and grain handler Richardson International Inc., softening any political concerns about the foreign takeover.
The Competition Bureau approved Glencore’s deal with Richardson in December, leaving the two as roughly equal-sized players in the Canadian grain-handling industry.
However, Agrium’s deal rankled some farmers, who wanted the regulator to scale back the purchase to prevent the company from becoming too powerful in the sale of fertilizer and other crop supplies.
Along with being the biggest North American farm retail dealer, Agrium is also the world’s third-biggest maker of nitrogen fertilizer.
Agrium’s original deal with Glencore was for 90 percent of Viterra’s Canadian farm retail business, or 232 stores, but that number has been whittled down.
The bureau excluded seven stores from the deal, Agrium exercised an option to pass on buying some outlets and Viterra sold or closed other outlets, Agrium spokesperson Richard Downey said.
Including its existing 65 outlets, Agrium will have 275 farm retail stores in Western Canada after the deal closes.