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Canada raises concerns over Bunge’s acquisition of Viterra

The Competition Bureau of Canada cited potential anti-competitive impacts in grain and canola oil markets.

Gavel On Counter Close Up

The Competition Bureau of Canada has expressed significant concerns about the proposed acquisition of Viterra Limited by Bunge Limited, warning of potential anti-competitive effects in the agricultural sector. The findings were detailed in a report submitted to the Minister of Transport and will play a critical role in Transport Canada's ongoing public interest review of the transaction.

According to the Bureau, the merger between these two major players in Canada's agricultural industry could diminish competition significantly, particularly in the markets for grain purchasing in Western Canada and the sale of canola oil in Eastern Canada. Furthermore, the Bureau highlighted a conflict of interest issue, noting that Bunge, as a minority shareholder in G3 Global Holdings—a direct competitor to Viterra—has access to G3’s confidential and competitively sensitive information.

The Competition Bureau’s comprehensive review involved examining a wide array of sources, including records, submissions, and data from the parties involved and G3. Additionally, the Bureau conducted interviews with over 70 stakeholders and consulted two independent experts to bolster its assessment.

This investigation comes after Viterra and Bunge notified the Minister of Transport on August 15, 2023, about Bunge's intention to acquire Viterra. Subsequently, on September 26, 2023, the Minister initiated a public interest review under subsection 53.2(2) of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA), which requires the Commissioner of Competition to report any competition concerns.

Transport Canada is tasked with completing its public interest assessment by June 2, 2024, after which the final decision on the proposed acquisition will be made by the Governor in Council (Cabinet), based on recommendations from the Minister of Transport.

This case underscores the significant regulatory scrutiny that major mergers undergo, particularly those with wide-reaching implications on national industries and economic competition.

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