Updated, March 3, 2014 — Shareholders in southeastern Saskatchewan grain handler Weyburn Inland Terminal have given their blessing to a Winnipeg suitor’s proposal.
Farmer-owned WIT late Friday reported approval from 79.79 per cent of shares voted, in person or by proxy, for a friendly takeover by Winnipeg agrifood firm Parrish and Heimbecker. The vote was tallied during a special WIT shareholders’ meeting Friday afternoon in Weyburn.
In a release, WIT said it will now head to Court of Queen’s Bench on Wednesday (March 5) for final approval of its agreement with P+H. If court approval comes through and all other conditions are met, WIT said it expects the deal to be completed sometime during the week of March 10.
At least two-thirds approval was needed from shareholders for the P+H deal, which WIT’s board in January described as offering WIT shareholders “immediate liquidity at a compelling value.” [Related story]
P+H in January made a $94.6 million ($17.25 per share) all-cash proposal for WIT, but ran into resistance from a group of what WIT directors described as “dissident” shareholders who supported continued farmer ownership of the company. [Related story]
Weyburn farmer Mark Bratrud, one of the dissidents, took to Twitter Friday afternoon after the vote to congratulate “my friends on the sell WIT side.”
It’s now up to P+H, he added, “to prove us on the #savewit side wrong.”
After WIT’s board of directors announced plans in December to pursue “expressions of interest” in the company, Bratrud and other area farmers had urged WIT shareholders to consider other options besides a sale.
WIT shareholders in 1998 shot down an outside bid from another Winnipeg grain firm, United Grain Growers, now part of Viterra.
“We understand that investors want liquidity,” Bratrud told Grainews in January, “but have we explored every option? To us, selling it to somebody else is a last-ditch solution.”
Founded by local farmers in 1976, WIT runs a 105,490-tonne capacity grain terminal near Weyburn; retail facilities for seed, chemicals and fertilizer; and its Pro-Pellets facility, which can produce about 10 tonnes of feed pellets per hour.
The company’s holdings also include stakes in Vancouver’s Alliance Grain Terminal, Weyburn-area ethanol processor NorAmera BioEnergy and seed company Alliance Seed Corp. — AGCanada.com Network