Suitor approaches Viterra

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Viterra announced (March 9) that it has received interest from a third party.

Its share price soared this afternoon as high as about $14 per share from about $11. Shortly after, the company released a brief statement about the interest from an unnamed third party.

“Viterra Inc. announced today that in view of market activity in Viterra’s shares, the company acknowledges it has received expressions of interest from third-parties. There can be no assurance that any agreement or transaction will result,” the statement said.

Trading of its shares halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange early in the afternoon and when trading resumed the share price shot up.

At 1:40 p.m. CST the share price had fallen back to about $13.36.

There are about 371.7 million shares of the company outstanding meaning the market capitalization at $13.36 is a little less than $5 billion.

Viterra is Canada’s largest grain company and also has major holdings in Australia as well as processing operations in the United States.

On Thursday the company announced its first quarter results.

In a conference call about the results, company officials fielded questions about Viterra’s acquisition plans, and the possibility of interest in Viterra did not come up.

Viterra reported first quarter profit of $77.69 million, down from the record $100.68 million in the same period last year.

The lower results for the quarter ending Jan. 31 were due to reduced volume of grain handled in the company’s Australian operations.

Grain results also noted costs associated with improved service to farmers and new operations and marketing offices.

Results were also down at the company’s malt and oat processing operations, the company said in a news release.

However canola processing was enhanced by the opening of the company’s new crushing plant in China and by increased sales into the high margin specialty oil market.

Results in the agri production sector were up thanks to favourable fall weather that supported fertilizer buying and higher margins on fertilizer sales.

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