Blog: Katy AskewViterra interest plants seeds of controversy

Katy Askew | 12 March 2012

The announcement from Viterra that it has been approached over a possible takeover has resulted in a flurry of speculation over what "third parties" might be making a move on Canada's largest grain handling and marketing firm.

Names touted include US agribusiness giant Cargill, as well as the likes of Switzerland-based commodities titan Glencore International.

The spike in interest in Canadian grain processors comes as Ottawa prepares to end the Canadian Wheat Board's 76-year-old monopoly on sales of wheat and barley.

The Canadian government's move to strip the board of its monopoly over western wheat and barley sales and allow farmers to sell independently has provoked fierce controversy in western Canada.

Supporters of the CWB have claimed that the change will drive prices down and expose farmers to the swings of trading in commodities markets. Meanwhile, the Conservative government has argued that farmers can - and have the right to - get higher prices on the open market.

As Canada is the world's third-largest exporter of wheat, it seems likely that global agribusiness giants could well be lining up to get a piece of the action. However, in this highly-charged atmosphere, it also seems likely that any M&A activity could become the centre of considerable controversy. 


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