The management of AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. is trying to take the Regina-based supplier of pulses and other crops private.
A group led by chief executive officer Murad Al-Katib has offered to buy the outstanding shares for $18 each in cash, in a deal financed by Fairfax Financial Holdings, an AGT investor, AGT said on Thursday.
News of the offer sent AGT shares up by about 30 per cent to $17.80 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The shares traded as high as $26 last year, but have fallen sharply recently along with prices for chickpeas, lentils and other crops taxed by India, a major market for pulses.
AGT, formerly called Alliance Grain Traders, is a processor and seller of lentils, peas and other high-protein crops at more than 40 facilities around the world. The company was formed in 2007 by a merger between Agtech Income Fund and SaskCan Pulse Trading, founded by Mr. Al-Katib.
Mr. Al-Katib and the management group control 17 per cent of the company, which has a market value of $319-million, AGT said.
AGT’s board said in a statement it will set up a committee of independent directors to consider the proposal. Fairfax and Point North Capital Inc., which together control 10 per cent of AGT, would retain their shares.
AGT lost $37-million in 2017 and sales fell by 10 per cent to $1.7-billlion as large global harvests and tariffs in the key pulse market of India depressed crop prices and demand. In the first quarter of 2018, AGT lost $5-million and had sales worth $395-million, according to company financial reports.
AGT was part of an investors group, which included First Nations and Fairfax, that tried to buy the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba from Denver-based OmniTrax Inc. The railway company, which has been closed since a flood more than a year ago, said in early July talks had broken down.
Mr. Al-Katib told the Globe and Mail in May the 820-kilometre railway and deepwater port offers AGT a valuable gateway to foreign food markets.