Competition Bureau Raises Concerns with Bunge-Viterra Merger

Apr 23, 2024

The Competition Bureau has thrown some cold water on the proposed Viterra-Bunge merger. 

In a statement Tuesday, the Bureau said the planned transaction between two of this country’s most significant agricultural companies “is likely to result in substantial anti-competitive effects and a significant loss of rivalry between Viterra and Bunge in agricultural markets in Canada.”  

More specially, the Bureau’s review determined that the transaction is likely to harm competition in markets for grain purchasing in Western Canada, as well as for the sale of canola oil in Eastern Canada. 

The Bureau also found that Bunge could materially influence the economic behaviour of G3 Global Holdings (G3), a major competitor to Viterra. As a minority shareholder of G3, Bunge has access to G3’s confidential competitively sensitive information, it said. 

The Bureau’s concerns with the planned deal are outlined in a report submitted to the federal minister of transport and will help guide Transport Canada’s public review of the matter, as it relates to national transportation, the statement said. 

Transport Canada will have until June 2, 2024, to complete its public interest assessment of the deal. The final decision regarding the proposed transaction will be made by Ottawa. 

In its own statement today, Bunge acknowledged the Bureau’s “localized concerns” relating to the purchase of canola in the Nipawin, SK and Altona, MB areas, and related to canola oil sales to what it described as a small segment of customers in Eastern Canada. 

However, it pointed out the Bureau appeared to have no specific competition concerns for grain purchasing in Eastern Canada and in most of Western Canada, for port terminal operations, for meal sales, and for sales of most downstream refined and specialty oil products.  

Bunge said it believes the Bureau’s concerns with the deal are “misplaced,” adding it looks forward to providing further information to address any points of contention. 

“We are pleased the regulatory process is advancing and are confident the transaction will yield considerable benefits to Canada,” the Bunge statement said. 

US agribusiness and food company Bunge Ltd initially announced plans to merge with Canadian grain handling business Viterra Ltd in a transaction valued at $34 billion in June 2023. 

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Bunge has almost 23,000 employees and approximately 300 facilities located in more than 40 countries. Viterra has more than 17,500 employees operating in 37 countries, with a network of agricultural storage, processing and transport assets. 

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