In a groundbreaking move, U.S. grains merchant Bunge and Glencore-backed Viterra have announced their merger, forming an agricultural trading powerhouse with an estimated worth of $34 billion, including debt.
This deal positions the combined company as a major global player, bringing it closer in scale to leading rivals Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) and Cargill, with both Bunge and Viterra valued at approximately $17 billion each.
While regulatory scrutiny is expected, the merger represents an unprecedented development in the global agriculture sector.
This article analyzes the implications of the merger, highlighting key aspects and potential challenges.
Overview of Bunge and Viterra Merger
Bunge, the world’s largest oilseed processor, is set to strengthen its position with the acquisition of Viterra.
The deal will be primarily financed with cash, resulting in Bunge shareholders owning around 70% of the combined entity.
Viterra shareholders will receive approximately 65.6 million shares of Bunge stock, valued at about $6.2 billion, along with $2 billion in cash.
Additionally, Bunge will assume Viterra’s debt, amounting to $9.8 billion. The transaction is expected to be completed by mid-2024, with Viterra shareholders owning 30% of the new company.
Market Position of Bunge and Viterra
Bunge’s CEO, Greg Heckman, emphasized the complementary nature of the two companies, expressing satisfaction that strategic alignment had finally been achieved after years of consideration.
Bunge’s already established dominance in oilseed processing will be further enhanced through Viterra’s crushing businesses.
However, the merger is likely to attract regulatory scrutiny in various countries, including Canada and Argentina.
Global Presence of Bunge and Viterra
With Bunge being the largest corn and soybean exporter from Brazil, the merger will solidify its position in the world’s leading source of these crops for animal feed and biofuels.
Viterra’s involvement in buying and selling grain in the United States, along with its recent acquisition of Gavilon, will further bolster Bunge’s grain exporting and oilseed processing businesses.
The deal will also enhance Bunge’s grain storage and handling capacity in Australia, a major wheat exporter, by leveraging Viterra’s extensive storage sites and bulk grain export terminals.
Regulatory Considerations in Bunge and Viterra Merger
Canada’s antitrust regulator has confirmed its intention to review the merger, while Argentina’s competition bureau is yet to receive a formal notification.
The response from the U.S. Department of Justice and antitrust regulators in the European Union is still awaited.
Analysts predict that the consolidation of Bunge and Viterra’s businesses may trigger regulatory scrutiny due to potential implications for competition and market concentration.
Potential Impact on Competition Post Merger
Critics, including the Consumer Federation of America, argue that the merger could reduce competition for farmers’ crops and consolidate the processing of oilseeds used in plant-based foods and biofuels. T
his concern aligns with the broader efforts of the Biden administration to promote competition in the economy.
Some fear that further concentration in the industry may harm consumers and businesses reliant on these commodities.
Financial Outlook of Bunge and Viterra
Bunge plans to repurchase $2 billion of its stock to enhance accretion from the deal to adjusted profit. The merger is backed by a financing commitment of $7 billion from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and British Columbia Investment Management Corp have expressed their support, indicating unanimous agreement from Viterra shareholders. CPPIB will become a 12% owner of the combined company.
The merger also offers opportunities for synergies and operational efficiencies.
Bunge’s increased physical grain storage and handling capacity in Australia, facilitated by Viterra’s extensive network of storage sites and grain export terminals, will bolster its presence in a major wheat exporting market.
These synergies, along with the anticipated annual gross pre-tax operational synergies of approximately $250 million within three years, position the combined company for sustained profitability and growth.
However, concerns have been raised regarding the potential impact on competition. Critics argue that the consolidation of Bunge and Viterra’s businesses may reduce competition for farmers’ crops and concentrate the processing of oilseeds used in plant-based foods and biofuels.
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These concerns align with broader efforts to promote competition in the economy, particularly by the Biden administration. The regulatory review processes in various countries will shed light on the extent to which the merger may impact competition in the agricultural trading sector.
From a financial perspective, the merger is supported by a financing commitment of $7 billion from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and major shareholders such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and British Columbia Investment Management Corp have expressed their support for the deal.
The successful completion of the merger is expected to elevate Bunge’s revenue, bringing it more in line with industry leader ADM and creating opportunities for sustained annual earnings of $4 billion.
In summary, the Bunge and Viterra merger represents a transformative step in the agricultural trading sector.
While regulatory scrutiny and concerns about competition persist, the strategic fit, operational synergies, and financial support position the combined company for future success.
As the merger progresses and the regulatory landscape becomes clearer, the agricultural industry will closely watch the impact of this deal on market dynamics, competition, and the broader global supply chain.
Samridhi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Her research interests lie in examining the intersection of the social sector with poverty and inequality,
Along with this she is keen in understanding the systemic and structural issues that governs growth and development with an interdisciplinary focus.