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Cargill interested in buying Viterra: WSJ

A Viterra terminal east of Regina


U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. is one of the parties interested in acquiring Viterra Inc., Canada's biggest grain handler, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website on Sunday citing people familiar with the matter.

Viterra shares surged more than 20 per cent on Friday after the company said it had received expressions of interest from unnamed third parties on a possible takeover.

Commodities and mining giant Glencore International Plc. is also interested in Viterra and has made a £3.5-billion pound ($5.5-billion U.S.) approach, Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper earlier reported.

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The Journal reported that Viterra was expected to run a sale process, exploring the interest of a handful of possible buyers. A Viterra spokeswoman declined to comment. A Cargill spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Viterra is one of three big grain handlers in Canada - along with privately held Richardson International Limited and Cargill - and the only one that is publicly traded. It has a market capitalization of just over $5-billion (CAN).

Interest in the company comes as the Canadian government moves to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board's 69-year-old wheat and barley marketing monopoly in Western Canada on Aug. 1, 2012.

That change will eventually add $40-million to $50-million to Viterra's annual earnings, the company has said, as it can buy wheat and barley directly from farmers for the first time.

Canada is the leading exporter of spring wheat, durum, canola and oats.

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