OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Canada’s transport minister said the government will review Bunge’s planned acquisition of Viterra, which would create one of the world’s largest agribusiness firms if approved by regulators.

As part of the review, the country’s transport ministry will launch a public interest assessment of the proposed acquisition, which must be completed by June 2, 2024, said Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez. The assessment will include consultations with Canada’s ports and marine industry, stakeholders, other government departments and the public.

“Both companies hold ownership interests in port terminals throughout our country,” Rodriguez said. “Healthy competition in the transportation sector is necessary to ensure fair pricing and access for users, especially for Canadian farmers. Given this transaction is of significant national interest in Canada’s transportation sector and the broader supply chain, it will be reviewed under the mergers and acquisitions provisions of the Canada Transportation Act.”

Canada’s Competition Bureau said in June it would review the merger.

The $18 billion deal, announced by Bunge and Viterra in June, would bring the combined company closer in scale to leading global agribusinesses ADM and Cargill.

Viterra, which has been owned by Switzerland-based commodity trading giant Glencore PLC since 2012, operates a network of agricultural storage, processing and transport assets in 37 countries. Bunge, based in St. Louis is a world leader in soybean processing and a leading supplier of specialty plant-based oils and fats, operating approximately 300 facilities in more than 40 countries.

Viterra also recently completed its acquisition of US-based grain company Gavilon for its grain origination and storage and food ingredients business.

A spokesperson for Bunge told Reuters the company looked forward to working with Transport Canada to show any impact the merger would have on transportation would be beneficial to Canada.

“Our expectation that the transaction will close in mid-2024 remains unchanged,” the spokesperson said.

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