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* Gavilon acquisition allows it to support PNW export mkt
* Elevator purchase equates to 8.4 million bushel capacity
CHICAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - U.S. grain firm Gavilon Grain said on Thursday it will buy Union Elevator and Warehouse's 16 grain elevators in the Pacific Northwest, the company's second big purchase of U.S. grain facilities in the last six months.
Privately held Union Elevator, where employees own a significant share of the company, approved the transaction on Wednesday, with sale expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2011.
The purchase of 16 elevators at 12 locations in eastern Washington will expand Gavilon's grain capacity by 8.4 million bushels.
"The addition of Union Elevator's grain facilities and origination capabilities position us well to support the growing Pacific Northwest export wheat market and serve the Columbian Basin feed grain market," Greg Konsor, vice president and general manager of Gavilon Grain, said in a statement.
The Pacific Northwest is the No. 1 wheat export terminal in the United States.
Omaha, Nebraska-based Gavilon -- a commodity trading firm formed in 2008 when ConAgra Foods (CAG.N) sold it to investors -- purchased grain handler DeBruce Companies last year, making it the third-largest U.S. grain storage network behind Archer Daniels Midland (ADM.N) and Cargill Inc [CARG.UL].
Reporting by Christine Stebbins; Editing by Lisa Shumaker