Glencore’s Viterra takeover wins federal government blessing

Commodity giant Glencore’s “commitments to Canada” and Canadian farmers in its proposed takeover of the country’s biggest grain handler have earned the federal government’s formal approval of the deal.

Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis on Sunday announced he has approved Glencore International’s application under the Investment Canada Act for its friendly takeover of Viterra, which until now was expected to wrap up by the end of this month.

Paradis said he approves such applications “if I am satisfied that the investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada” based on the investor’s proposed plans and undertakings. Glencore, he said, “has made a number of commitments to Canada.”

The deal “demonstrates that our investment policies are working,” Paradis said.

His statement, which came after he received a 30-day extension on his decision deadline last month, made no mention of any other conditions Glencore would have to meet beyond those it’s already proposed.

Glencore, in a separate release Sunday, reiterated the commitments it’s making to Canada for “a five-year period,” including a boost in Viterra’s projected capital expenditures in Canada by over $100 million over five years, and another $8 million above Viterra’s projected expenditures in research and development.

Switzerland’s Glencore has also pledged to work with the Saskatchewan government toward setting up a Global Institute for Food Security in the province, and to help support such an institute if the province goes ahead with it. Glencore also pledged a contribution toward “grain industry initiatives” in Manitoba.

Glencore also reiterated it will maintain the Viterra head office in Regina, repatriate a number of head office jobs to Regina that Viterra had previously shuffled to Calgary, and make Regina the head office for Glencore’s North American ag operations.

The buyer also said it will boost its contributions toward programs supporting Western Canada’s “farm community” by 25 per cent, make charitable contributions supporting youth, and set up educational scholarships for First Nations and Métis.

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