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China nod clears way for Glencore’s Viterra purchase

Dec. 7, 2012, Calgary, AB - Glencore International Plc won approval from China's Ministry of Commerce for its C$6 billion ($6 billion) purchase of Canadian grain handler Viterra Inc, clearing the last regulatory hurdle for the long-delayed deal.

The takeover, one of the largest in the global agriculture industry in years, was originally expected to close by late July.

The deal will give Swiss-based Glencore, the world's largest diversified commodities trader, a huge presence in grains — an area dominated by Archer Daniels Midland Co, Cargill Inc and Bunge Ltd — complementing its current strength in metals, minerals and oil.

Viterra, whose only significant asset in China is a joint venture canola-crushing plant, said on Friday it now expects the deal to be finalized on December 17.

There had been speculation that China was holding off on a decision until it found out if the Canadian government would approve a takeover of Canadian oil producer Nexen Inc by China's CNOOC Ltd.

Friday's approval was the last outstanding regulatory nod for the acquisition.

Shareholders of Viterra, which also has operations in South Australia, overwhelmingly accepted Glencore's offer of C$16.25 per share in May. Glencore offered to buy Viterra in March.

The extended review has also delayed side deals Glencore has made to transfer some Viterra assets to Agrium Inc, CF Industries Holdings Inc and private Canadian grain handler Richardson International Ltd.

Viterra shares, which touched a seven-month low of C$15.65 in late October on concerns over the delays, closed at C$15.85 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Glencore shares were down 0.7 percent at 343.15 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Friday at 1246 GMT.