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The Globe and Mail

Viterra investors to vote on Glencore bid next month

A Viterra grain storage facility is shown August 30, 2007 near Regina, Sask.


Shareholders in Viterra Inc. will vote on May 29 on whether to approve a $6.1-billion friendly takeover of Canada's biggest grain handler by Swiss-based commodities trader Glencore International PLC .

The vote will be taken at a special shareholder meeting in Calgary, Alberta, a Viterra spokeswoman said.

The deal's completion requires approval of two-thirds of the votes cast by shareholders or their proxies. If it gets a green light, it is expected to close in Viterra's third quarter, ending July 31.

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Alberta Investment Management Corp, Viterra's biggest shareholder with a 16.5 per cent stake, has already agreed to support the takeover.

Glencore said on March 20 it had reached a deal to buy Viterra and sell off some parts of it to Canada's Richardson International Ltd and Agrium Inc, giving Glencore a huge new presence in the grain industry.

With U.S. grains and energy trader Gavilon Group also on the block, the North American grain industry is poised for its biggest consolidation wave since the late 1990s as a boom in Asia's population and increased use of corn to make biofuels tighten global grain supplies and boost demand.

The deal still needs regulatory approval in Canada and Australia. Because it is a foreign takeover, the Canadian government must decide if it is of "net benefit" to the country.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted Glencore's global marketing reach in comments on March 26 that signaled Ottawa has little appetite for blocking the deal.

The takeover also requires a review by Canada's Competition Bureau. The arm's-length bureau consults with various industry players when considering a transaction's impact on competition, spokesman Greg Scott said last week.

He could not say how long the review might take.

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Viterra shares in Toronto were unchanged at $15.96 in early trading on Wednesday and have hovered around that level since Glencore said it would pay $16.25 a share for the company. Glencore shares were up 0.7 per cent in London.

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