Inputs Monitor has been closely watching the discussion between Alberta based Agrium Inc. (AGU) and JANA Partners, a hedge fund from New York City. JANA is Agrium's largest shareholder with a 4.1% stake and has been pushing hard to see Agrium split its retail and wholesale operations. So far Agrium has refused, expressing its intent to ride the horse that got them here.
The two companies are back in the news today. JANA continues to pursue the split option hoping to cash in on the amount of working capital tied up in the wholesale operation and return it to investors. Agrium continues to refuse the split.
Michael Wilson, Agrium’s President and CEO said earlier today, "There is nothing new in statements made by JANA today. Agrium remains confident that shareholders will receive far greater value, with less risk, under the company’s current strategy."
Agrium has had several meetings with JANA since they first contacted Agrium in late May, including meetings in New York in early July and the last meeting held in mid-August. In early August the Agrium Board unanimously determined it was not in the best interest of shareholders to pursue a spinoff of Retail after having spent two months evaluating the concept.
Officials at Agrium say there is overwhelming shareholder support for the continuation of Agrium’s integrated strategy. Agrium has met extensively with shareholders since JANA disclosed its idea to break up the retail and wholesale divisions. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is acting as financial advisor to Agrium.
Agrium Inc. (AGU) closed 2.07 higher today on very high volume at 105.53. AGU has been trending upward since mid-June of this year.
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