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Saudi links to G3 Canada questioned

A grain company leader is urging farmers and the media to dig into the financing of one of his rivals, which is partly owned by a Saudi Arabian entity.

“The farmers need a reckoning for their investment (in G3, the grain company created in 2015.) The farmers are part-owners of this company,” said Andrew Paterson, Paterson GlobalFoods’ president, as he spoke to reporters Oct. 3. “There’s no public accounting for their investment. And there’s a very large farmer input into this company…. All they need is an accounting for it.”

G3’s vice-president of business development, Brett Malkoske, responded to Paterson’s comments by noting that G3 has a number of partners and has direct farmer participation.

“G3 is a Canadian company, and not unlike some of our competitors we have shareholders from around the world…. Through our Farmers Equity Plan, G3 provides eligible farmers with a long-term ownership interest in their supply chain — the only opportunity of its kind in Western Canada,” said Malkoske.

Paterson highlighted G3’s ownership stake held by the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company, which controls SALIC Canada and is a partner with Bunge in G3 Global Grain Group, which operates G3 as a joint venture with the Farmers Equity Trust.

The Farmers Equity Trust was created from the money left over from winding up the Canadian Wheat Board and allows farmers using the CWB since August 2013 and now G3 to assume shares in the company.

Paterson said he thought there wasn’t enough visibility about where G3’s money is coming from, or how its major investments have affected farmers’ interests within the company.

He handed reporters copies of a Canadian government translation of a Saudi government directive from 2018 for Saudi government ministries and agencies to stop doing new business with Canadian companies and get out of arrangements they presently had.

Saudi Arabia’s unhappiness with Canada stemmed from Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s statement on Twitter that Saudi Arabia should release female-rights activists it had arrested.

G3 has taken pains since the international squabble arose to note that it is a Canadian company with substantial Canadian and non-Saudi corporate ownership. Its Saudi element has not seemed to affect its expansion plans.

It has launched a major company-building effort since taking over the CWB’s assets, which were mostly marketing operations and a few physical assets.

The company has now constructed grain elevators and a large, fast and efficient grain terminal and port in Vancouver.

Paterson mentioned that his company uses money it makes in grain handling to invest in operations like its planned Winnipeg oat mill, but that G3 is able to bring in money from outside.

Paterson’s challenge to farm, urban and national media to dig in to G3’s financing came near the anniversary of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which he referenced by urging reporters to watch a PBS television program about the situation.

ed.white@producer.com

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