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Morning Meeting: Agrium's Wilson heads down under Add to ...

Welcome to the Morning Meeting, a compendium of key news on deals and dealmakers.

It's Monday, Agrium must be buying something

Agrium Inc. chief executive officer Mike Wilson is one of Canada's most prolific acquirers, so when he failed in his last bid, nobody expected him to lay low for long. That's why it's little surprise to see him turn up with a $1.1-billion (U.S.) bid for AWB Ltd., Australia's largest wheat exporter. The geography is a bit of a surprise, however,. Australia is new ground for Mr. Wilson. To get AWB he'll have to outgun GrainCorp Ltd., which has already tried to buy AWB. Barclays is advising Agrium. Here's the Bloomberg News story

Canada's Viterra Inc., meantime, is already in Australia and having to hire frantically to keep up after bumper harvests, The Australian newspaper reports.

Caisse of Nerves

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is wary of another misstep, and under new chief executive officer Michael Sabia the country's second-largest pension fund has tried to dial back the risks, The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins reports.

Blame Goldman

Goldman Sachs & Co. pitched the skinny 0.75 per cent fee that the banks leading the General Motors Corp. initial public offering are getting, Bloomberg News reports. Other banks were asking for at least 2 per cent, a huge win given the size of the deal. The government took Goldman's idea on fees while relegating the bank to a lesser role.

More resource consolidation in India

Vedanta Resources, an Indian miner, is paying almost $10-billion for a stake in Cairn Energy to get control of one of the country's largest energy assets. Read the Financial Times story.

Obama slags traders

U.S. President Barack Obama is gearing up to fight the November mid-term elections over social security reforms that would put money in the U.S. retirement fund (a strong word, for something that's largely unfunded) in a system subject to the "the whims of Wall Street traders." Bloomberg News reported that in his weekly radio address, Mr. Obama said he would fight any attempt to switch social security to privately-run accounts -- something that Republicans have long eyed.

"I'd have thought, after being reminded how quickly the stock market can tumble, after seeing the wealth people worked a lifetime to earn wiped out in a matter of days, that no one would want to place bets with Social Security on Wall Street -- that everyone would understand why we need to be prudent about investing the retirement money of tens of millions of Americans," he said. Here's the story according to Bloomberg News.

Paul Krugman, pessimist on Canada

A challenger for the title of world's most pessimistic economic commentator, Paul Krugman warns Canada may be next for an economic beatdown. Home prices are "verging on" a red-light warning and Canadians spend too much. "Canadians borrow an awful lot. Savings rates have been very low. Household debt relative to income is very high here," he said at a speech to the Canadian Bar Association, The Globe and Mail's Kirk Makin reports.

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