March 20 (Reuters) - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, whose views could be pivotal in determining Ottawa’s stance on Glencore International’s C$6.1 billion ($6.2 billion) takeover bid for grain handler Viterra Inc, said on Tuesday the proposal seems to address concerns about maintaining grain market competition.
Viterra’s head office is in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the Western Canadian province is a major grain producer. Wall’s opposition to mining giant BHP Billiton’s $39 billion takeover of Saskatchewan-based Potash Corp in 2010 was a big factor in the federal government’s scuttling of the deal.
Under law, the federal government must review major takeovers of Canadian companies by foreign entities to ensure they are of “net benefit” to Canada. Saskatchewan plans to conduct its own analysis of the deal and then make a recommendation to Ottawa, as it did in the Potash case.
Canada’s Competition Bureau will also review the deal.
Wall told reporters in Regina that competition concerns appear to be addressed by the terms of the deal, under which Canada’s Agrium Inc and Richardson International will buy some of Viterra’s assets.
Wall also said he was encouraged by Glencore’s promise to put the head office of its North American agriculture business in Regina, but wants clarification of the pledge.
Although Viterra’s head office is in Regina, Chief Executive Mayo Schmidt and some other executives currently work out of Calgary, Alberta.
The government of Alberta said it is taking what it called a balanced view on the acquisition until it has a clearer idea of its implications. However it said it welcomes the entry of a company with international heft in the grain market.
“There will be another global player that has ... assets around the globe,” said Dave Burdek, a spokesman for Alberta Agriculture. “That’s going to be potentially very positive.”