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CWB on lookout for assets and opportunities

CWB’s search for new investment opportunities in Western Canada is not over yet.

President Ian White says the soon-to-be-privatized grain company is continuing to search for additional grain handling assets and new investment opportunities.

Last year, CWB acquired Mission Terminal at Thunder Bay, Ont., the largest handler of Western Canadian grain shipped via producer cars.

Since then, it announced the construction of new high-throughput elevators at Bloom, Man., near Portage la Prairie, and Colonsay, Sask., southeast of Saskatoon.

CWB has also entered an agreement with Prairie West Terminal at Plenty, Sask., to acquire that company’s assets, which include a high-throughput concrete elevator and a number of smaller wooden facilities in west-central Saskatchewan.

White said CWB is looking at producer car loading facilities as another opportunity to expand handling volumes and forge closer ties with producers.

Groups have already contacted CWB, asking whether the former Canadian Wheat Board would be interested in making capital investments in new producer car loading sites.

White said CWB welcomes those discussions and would assess opportunities on a case-by-case basis.

“If there was an opportunity for us and for the local producers for that, we’d certainly look at it,” he said.

With the acquisition of Mission Terminal, CWB’s initial focus has been on acquiring facilities in the eastern catchment area.

In the future, CWB said it is hoping to expand its reach into Alberta and other areas that would normally ship grain through west coast terminals.

“Right now, our focus has been in (Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan) … but we’re also sending grain west … with our handling agreements so anything we’re able to send west, we will also be looking to do that.”

White said securing access to terminal capacity on the West Coast port will remain a priority.

Rumours have persisted this year that the CWB’s grain handling agreements with major line companies have not lived up to expectations.

With restricted grain movements across Western Canada this winter and line companies focused on executing their own sales programs, CWB business has taken a back seat at many elevator locations.

White said CWB is eager to renew its agreements with line companies.

“We already have handling agreements in place with a number of companies and we value those agreements,” he said.

“We obviously have to see how things go moving forward but … I think we do want them to be re-newed…. We’re still compatible with that and we hope that they will see some value in our handle….”

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