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JWS, Freehills scoop Viterra's $1.6b acquisition

JWS, Freehills scoop Viterra's $1.6b acquisition

Johnson Winter & Slattery and Freehills have scooped work on Viterra Inc's acquisition of ABB Grain Ltd for $1.6 billion.

JOHNSON Winter & Slattery and Freehills have scooped work on Viterra Inc’s acquisition of ABB Grain Ltd for $1.6 billion.

The acquisition will involve a mixture of cash and shares offer via a scheme of arrangement, subject to shareholder and court approval.

JWS, including partners John Keeves, Tim Bowley and Jim Hunwick, is acting for ABB Grain. Freehills, meanwhile, including partner Phillipa Stone, is acting for Viterra. 

Johnson Winter & Slattery partner Tim Bowley, who worked on the deal, said the magnitude of the deal makes it an unusual one for in the current economic climate. “Announced M&A activity is not what it once was. Things are still being planned, but not all of them reach fruition.”

Bowley said the deal’s size, and the fact that it involves consideration consisting of share in a foreign country makes it particularly unusual. 

“We’re only aware of two others since 2000 of this magnitude. You get a lot of small mining companies merging with Canadian companies, but at the large end this is quite a unique feature.”

Michael Iwaniw, managing director of ABB, said: “The transaction is consistent with our respectively companies’ strategy to expand our global footprint through geographic diversification and investments in value-added processing. The transaction will diversify the new company's earnings profile, offering counter seasonal cash flows and a more even distribution of earnings.”

The offer would either be a $9.11 cash offer or a $9.41 share offer, which includes a special cash dividend of $0.41 per share to be paid by ABB. The ABB directors unanimously recommend that ABB shareholders vote in favour of the proposed scheme of arrangement, they said in a joint statement. 

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