Chinese approval final step in Glencore-Viterra deal

China has given its approval to the $6.1 billion deal that will see Glencore buy Viterra.

The sign-off by China’s ministry of commerce was the final outstanding regulatory approval needed for the deal.

Viterra said in a news release it now expects the deal will be completed by Dec. 17 when Glencore will release funds to be paid out to eligible Viterra shareholders.

Arrangements will also be made to delist Viterra from the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The approvals over the past months by the Canadian courts, regulators around the world and our shareholders, who voted 99.8 percent in favour of the deal, demonstrate widespread support for this transaction,” Mayo Schmidt, Viterra president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

The share price in the deal is $16.25.

Once Glencore has ownership, the second stage of the multi-part deal will be triggered, in which Glencore will sell most of Viterra’s farm service centres to Agrium and 19 country elevators and other assets to Richardson International.

Viterra’s 34 percent interest in Canadian Fertilizer Ltd., a fertilizer plant in Medicine Hat, Alta., will be sold to CF Industries, the partner that already owns 66 percent of the plant.

China came into the picture because Viterra recently built a canola crushing plant there.

There had been media speculation in Canada that China was dragging its feet over the approval because the Canadian government was taking a long time to approve a $15.1 billion takeover of Calgary-based energy company Nexen by Chinese state-owned enterprise CNOOC Ltd.

The Globe and Mail newspaper today reported that the Harper government is poised to approve the Nexen sale and another deal, Malaysian-based Petronas’s bid to buy Progress Energy Resources Corp.

The paper says Ottawa will at the same time release new foreign investment rules clarifying Canada’s interest in further takeovers in key sectors of the economy.

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