By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 17 U.S. farm
co-operative CHS Inc said on Monday it has agreed to
buy 16 Canadian farm retail outlets from Agrium Inc
, and plans to further expand its business in
The deal includes eight stores that sell seed, chemicals and
fertilizer to farmers, as well as eight ammonia tank businesses,
located in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the two biggest wheat- and
canola-growing Canadian provinces.
The purchase bulks up CHS' modest Canadian holdings, which
currently consist of three retail stores and small offices in
Winnipeg and Calgary.
The St. Paul, Minnesota-based company is interested in
buying or building more farm retail stores, grain-handling sites
and fuel sales locations in Canada, said John McEnroe, executive
vice-president of CHS country operations.
"Anything that touches the farmer, we would be interested in
looking at," he said in an interview. "There's a good argument
that instead of a Canadian market and a U.S. market for
agricultural commodities, it could be a North American market.
"As the border blurs, we see the opportunity for Canada to
grow for us."
CHS' interest in Canada grew with the end of the Canadian
Wheat Board's grain marketing monopoly in 2012 and the
once-powerful farmer-owned grain pools over the past decade,
A fertilizer plant that CHS is building near Shelby,
Montana, which is expected to open in spring, will supply some
of the Canadian outlets, McEnroe said.
Terms of the deal, which is to close around April 1, were
Agrium acquired some of the assets as part of its 2013
purchase of more than 200 Canadian outlets from Viterra, a unit
of Glencore Xstrata PLC, said Agrium spokesman Richard
Downey. To gain approval from Canada's Competition Bureau,
Agrium had to divest certain outlets in sensitive areas.
CHS shares on the NASDAQ exchange eased 0.4 percent in
midday trading, while Agrium stock gained about 1 percent in New
York and Toronto. Agrium was lifted by Cowen and Company's
rating upgrade for the fertilizer company to "market perform"