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Glencore explains 'net benefits' to Canada in Viterra deal

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There is no deal that demonstrates just how much BHP Billiton's abortive bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan has changed Canada's deal making landscape more than Glencore's bid for Viterra.

For the past week, it was widely known that Glencore was looking to 'Canadianize' any deal it was a part of, and on a conference call Tuesday morning Glencore was well prepared to answer any questions about the deal's 'net benefit' to Canada.

That specific question inevitably came up, and Glencore's answer included the following:

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Agrium and Richardson will be strengthened Glencore isn't doing this alone. It's selling the retail assets to Agrium, and some grain handling assets to Richardson, both of which are Canadian companies.

Commitment to Regina head office Glencore will set up its North American agricultural head office in Regina, and will launch any U.S. business from there.

Provide access to global markets This one wasn't exactly clear. Glencore said that because it's a global firm, it will offer consumers access to clients beyond Canadian borders.

Commitment to "various research projects" Again, not very clear. But it appears that funding some research or engaging in research may be baked into the deal

Investing in infrastructure Glencore said it wants to expand Viterra's infrastructure (but didn't offer any specifics) and noted that it will be an "excellent custodian of the assets," promising to "keep them state of the art."

Demonstrating just how much Investment Canada's approval weight on Glencore's minds, Chris Mahoney, director of agricultural products, admitted that Richardson and Agrium were only brought in because of fears of federal government involvement. "We wanted the Canadian component to this transaction," he said.

If the deal goes through, expect Glencore to make an agricultural acquisition in the U.S. "It's no secret that prior to this deal that Glencore had very little in North America," Mr. Mahoney said. "Because of that, it would have been difficult for us to grow organically, silo by silo in North America. I think the same is probably true in the United States."

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