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ADM Considered Buying Viterra, While Agrium Picks Up Assets

By Doug Cameron Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) said Tuesday it had looked at buying Canadian grain-handler Viterra Inc. (VT.T), but viewed the asking price as too rich despite identifying "substantial synergies." Glencore International PLC (GLEN.LN) announced an agreed bid of C$6.1 billion (US$6.2 billion) for Viterra Tuesday following a two-week sale process that attracted interest from many of the world's largest agribusiness and commodity trading concerns, according to people familiar with the process. The interest was sparked by deregulation in the Canadian agribusiness sector with the ending of a 70-year-old government monopoly over the wheat trade, as well as a gradual shift in the focus of grain production northwards because of long-term drought conditions in parts of the U.S.. Pat Woertz, ADM's chief executive, said in a statement that the company didn't submit a final bid. "We determined that at the valuation level we anticipated to be competitive, which has been confirmed by the announced deal, the acquisition would not meet our return objectives," she said. Viterra also attracted interest from Cargill Inc., the world's largest grain handler after ADM, as well as Bunge Ltd. (BG), according to people familiar with the situation. Neither confirmed they had looked at acquiring the Canadian company. Glencore's agreed deal includes the planned disposal of the bulk of Viterra's retail arm to Agrium Inc. (AGU.T) for about C$1.15 billion, excluding an estimated C$500 million in working capital required to run the business. Agrium said the planned purchase would be immediately accretive to earnings. -By Doug Cameron, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4135; doug.cameron@dowjones.com

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