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“Compelling majority” of CF stock tendered: Agrium

Canadian fertilizer and ag retail giant Agrium reports its latest takeover bid for U.S. rival CF Industries has attracted tenders for about 62 per cent of CF’s stock.

Agrium’s unsolicited cash-and-stock offer, worth US$45 plus one Agrium common share, or about US$5.1 billion, will now be extended to midnight ET, Dec. 18, the Calgary company said in a release Thursday.

“CF stockholders have sent a clear and unambiguous message to CF’s board that they want this deal with Agrium,” Agrium CEO Mike Wilson said in the release. “To achieve such a compelling majority of stockholder support for a second time regarding the combination of our two companies speaks for itself.”

Although the board of Chicago-based CF has since February repeatedly rejected Agrium’s overtures — including what Agrium now calls its best and final offer — Wilson said “we look forward to meeting with CF and its advisors shortly to conclude this mutually beneficial transaction.”

Agrium said it has satisfied all related regulatory issues in Canada, and on Tuesday announced it had signed a proposed consent agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which it expects would settle any antitrust issues in the U.S.

Thus, Agrium said Thursday, it “has a clear path to completion and is prepared immediately to execute a binding merger agreement with CF.”

Agrium’s plans to satisfy Canadian competition regulators include a deal to sell half-ownership of its Carseland, Alta. fertilizer manufacturing plant to Terra Industries, an Iowa-based fertilizer firm which itself has been fighting a hostile takeover bid from CF since January.

CF, whose Canadian assets include a major nitrogen fertilizer facility at Medicine Hat, Alta., has previously described Agrium’s bid as an attempt to interfere in CF’s play for Terra.

Ahead of Terra’s annual meeting of shareholders Friday, CF on Thursday urged Terra shareholders to vote in favour of a new slate of directors in favour of CF’s bid.

“Your vote is the only way to support CF Industries’ proposal to acquire Terra and create a leader in the global nitrogen fertilizer industry,” CF CEO Stephen Wilson wrote in a letter to Terra stockholders.

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