For some time, Viterra has made it no secret that it is in an acquisition mode. At $1.4 billion in cash and shares, the Viterra deal to buy ABB Grain of Australia is a mega-acquisition. Mayo Schmidt has had an amazing track record as head of the company that used to be Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. With steely resolve he brought the company back from the brink of bankruptcy and then masterminded the takeover of Agricore United. Schmidt’s much vilified predecessor Don Loewen is widely blamed for dragging the Pool into financial difficulty due to aggressive expansion and too many acquisitions. Operations in Poland and Mexico were particularly big money losers. Most observers assume Schmidt knows what he’s doing and that this blockbuster Australian deal must be a good business move. The same assumptions were made back in Loewen’s time. The timing may be better with the current acquisition. The outlook is bullish for the grain sector worldwide. Loewen tried to accomplish expansion during a time of meagre returns in the grain industry. I’m Kevin Hursh.
Kevin Hursh, PAg, CAC