April 02, 2013
The agribusiness sector had a 15-per-cent share of the Canadian M&A in Q1, putting it in PwC’s top five industries list. That M&A market share for agriculture was, it needs to be said, bloated by one particular deal: Swiss-based Glencore International PLC’s US$7.3-billion acquisition of Saskatchewan’s Viterra Inc.
Patrice Walch-Watson, a partner at Torys LLP in Toronto, was in on that one. She represented Regina-based Viterra, a grain-handling and agricultural services company she’s worked with for years. She and Torys helped Viterra ̶ through a variety of strategic acquisitions ̶ go from once nearly bankrupt concern to the juicy target that attracted Glencore, the world’s biggest commodities wholesaler.
For Canadian commercial law firms, the Glencore-Vitarra deal should be the big flare signaling that agriculture isn’t the hee-haw business some might think. "I agree that the agriculture sector in Canada and probably globally hasn’t been as sexy from a legal perspective," says Walch-Watson. "But I think that the tide is turning. There’s been a whole lot of global consolidation. And I think that it’s still continuing."
"And the size of the deals are big," she adds. "The issues are interesting, particularly with foreign investment and competition. And I think that people are seeing this as a sector to watch."