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Glencore takeover of Viterra delayed as China reviews deal

Workers remove a cover from the side of an Viterra inland terminal in this file photo.

TROY FLEECE/The Canadian Press

Glencore International PLC's takeover of Canadian grain handler Viterra Inc. may not close until as late as Dec. 10, as the companies look to clear the final regulatory hurdle.

China's Ministry of Commerce continues to review the $6.1-billion deal and its approval is not expected by Nov. 15, the previous closing date, Viterra said in a statement on Friday.

The deal, one of the largest takeovers in the global agriculture industry in years, was originally expected to close by late July. Viterra shareholders overwhelmingly accepted Glencore's offer of $16.25 per share in May.

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"Glencore and Viterra continue to engage with MOFCOM to ensure approval as soon as possible," Viterra said.

Concerns about the delays drove Viterra shares to a seven-month low in late October, although they have since pared those losses to close Thursday at $15.72 in Toronto, 3 per cent lower than Glencore's offer.

Some investors have speculated that China is holding off on a decision until it finds out if the Canadian government will approve a takeover of Canadian oil producer Nexen Inc. by China's CNOOC Ltd.

The new deadline also delays side deals Glencore has made to flip some Viterra assets to Agrium Inc., Richardson International Limited and CF Industries Holdings Inc.

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