April 17, 2009 / 6:13 PM / in 9 years

Agrium CEO says fully committed to hostile CF bid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The chief executive of Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) reaffirmed on Friday that the Canadian fertilizer company was “fully committed” to its hostile bid for CF Industries Holdings Inc (CF.N)

“We want this deal. We’re not going away,” Agrium CEO Mike Wilson said in an interview.

Agrium has offered CF a cash-and-stock deal currently worth more than $4 billion.

But CF, which is currently locked in its own hostile takeover bid for competitor Terra Industries Inc TRA.N, has rejected Agrium’s bid as too low.

CF has also characterized the Agrium bid as nothing more than an attempt to scuttle its offer for Terra. CF said on Wednesday that Agrium’s offer was not serious, citing in part the fact Agrium had not contacted them in over a month.

Agrium’s Wilson said his company has since called CF twice and had received no response.

“If (not calling) means we’re not serious, then it would be nice if they responded to our calls,” he said.

Agrium has asked CF shareholders to withhold their votes for the board members up for election at CF’s annual meeting next week. But key proxy advisory firm RiskMetrics has recommended that shareholders support the CF slate.

    “Nothing Agrium says changes the fact that its offer is grossly inadequate and that both RiskMetrics and Proxy Governance recommend supporting CF Industries,” a CF spokeswoman said.

    Wilson also reaffirm that Agrium might be willing to raise its offer if CF were to come to the table.

    “If you feel the company is worth more, then sit down and talk and help us understand that. If it’s truly there, then sure we’ll give more,” he said.

    “We feel we’ve got a full and fair offer on the table, but we’re not adverse to listening ... if we’re missing something we will up our bid.”

    Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Andre Grenon

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