Agrium blasts hedge fund’s breakup plans

Reuters / The war of words between fertilizer maker Agrium Inc. and its biggest shareholder, Jana Partners, escalated March 4 with Agrium slamming the hedge fund’s plan to split the company in a letter to investors ahead of its annual meeting next month.

Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, which has begun mailing its proxy circular to shareholders ahead of the meeting on April 9, said Jana’s plan is an “ill-conceived scheme” that will destroy shareholder value.

The activist U.S. hedge fund, which owns some 7.5 per cent of Agrium’s shares, has for months demanded a number of changes at the company, including a split between its wholesale fertilizer production arm and its retail business, which sells seeds, crop protection chemicals, fertilizers and other farm products.

Talks aimed at developing a truce between the two sides broke down in February and Jana has proposed five candidates for election to Agrium’s 13-member board.

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