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New Flyer eyes L.A. deal

NEW Flyer Industries is on the verge of landing a massive contract for as many as 900 compressed natural gas buses -- worth close to $500 million -- from L.A. Metro, the transit authority in Los Angeles.

L.A. Metro management has recommended the purchase, which includes a firm order for 550 buses for $302.9 million and an option for an additional 350.

That recommendation now goes before the system safety and operations committee of L.A. Metro's board on Jan. 17.

That committee would then review the bid and make a recommendation to the full board, which meets Jan. 24.

A spokesman for L.A. Metro said the full board, including the mayor of Los Angeles, needs to agree to the purchase.

"We do not have a contract yet or a notice to proceed," New Flyer CEO Paul Soubry said in an email exchange Tuesday. "What we do have is a Notice of Intent to Award for up to 900, 40-foot CNG Xcelsior buses (550 firm)."

The L.A. order is not on the books and is not confirmed.

At the end of the third quarter of 2012, New Flyer's backlog totalled 6,206 equivalent units (EQs) with a total value of $2.64 billion. An equivalent unit gives an approximate measure of the size of a bus, and a longer than typical 40-foot bus represents two units.

Since then -- not counting the potential L.A. order -- the company has announced new orders and options totalling an additional 518 EQs.

Legumex arm operating

A division of Legumex Walker Inc., the Winnipeg-based specialty crop processing firm formed a couple of years ago, has started production at its canola processing plant in Washington state, the only canola processor west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Pacific Coast Canola (PCC) oilseed processing facility in Warden, Wash. -- which is 85 per cent owned by Legumex Walker -- started production and completed its first sale and shipment of canola oil and meal during the final week of December 2012.

The plant has a capacity to crush 1,100 metric tonnes of canola seed per day, which will yield about 400 metric tonnes per day of the highest grade of canola oil. Company officials say it's expected to achieve capacity in the first half of this year.

The company hopes to capitalize on growing demand for canola oil in the United States.

Canola oil has only about 10 per cent of the edible oil market in the U.S., compared to 70 per cent in Canada. From 2005 to 2011, growth in canola oil consumption in the U.S. grew by more than 80 per cent.

Legumex Walker is a specialty crop processor specializing in pulses (beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas), other special crops (sunflowers and flax) and canola products. It has 14 processing facilities Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the U.S. Midwest, as well as a plant in China in addition to the canola plant in Washington.

Legumex Walker stock was up 6.72 per cent Tuesday to $6.51 on brisk trading.

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 B7

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