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Viterra deal closes

WINNIPEG-based Richardson International Limited has finally closed on its acquisition of 19 country elevators and 13 crop input centres formerly owned and operated by Viterra.

The $800-million-plus deal was originally announced more than a year ago in conjunction with Glencore International's purchase of Viterra Inc.

The new facilities will be added to Richardson Pioneer's network of grain handling and crop input facilities across Western Canada.

"This is an important milestone in our company history and it is especially significant as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Richardson Pioneer in 2013," says Curt Vossen, president and CEO of Richardson International.

Richardson also acquired a Viterra terminal in Thunder Bay and Viterra's milling business including oat processing plants in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Martensville, Saskatchewan and Barrhead, Alberta, an oat processing plant in Nebraska and a wheat mill in Texas.


Hortons shares perk up

TORONTO -- Tim Hortons Inc. shares closed higher Wednesday after a report U.S. investment firm Highfields Capital is pushing for changes at the chain, including a big buyback of stock and a spinoff of its real estate holdings.

Reuters news agency, which cited documents and two sources, said Highfields wants the coffee and doughnut chain to borrow $3.4 billion to buy back more than a third of its stock.

Highfields also wants Tim Hortons to create a real estate trust for its real estate assets and spin off or sell its distribution business.

Tim Hortons declined to comment on the report.

"We are focused on continuing our track record of creating shareholder value and always welcome constructive dialogue with our shareholders," the company said in a statement.

Tim Hortons owns about 20 per cent of its more than 3,400 restaurant locations and kiosks, though most are leased. It also owns corporate headquarters and distribution centres.

The company is scheduled to report its first-quarter results on May 8 and hold its annual meeting on May 9. Shares in Tim Hortons closed up $2.19 at $56.77 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.


Cheapa' pizza on way?

OTTAWA -- Canada's dairy farmers have changed the rules they use to classify milk that goes into making mozzarella cheese.

And that could result in cheaper fresh-made pizzas for consumers across the country.

The new milk class, to take effect June 1, is expected to result in lower costs of Canadian-made mozzarella for restaurants that prepare and cook pizzas on site.

The move could also slow or halt the erosion of domestic cheese sales to pizza restaurants.

A number of restaurant chains recently began circumventing hefty cheese tariffs by importing their mozzarella by way of pizza topping kits.

Last year, the Canada Border Services Agency last year designated the boxed cheese-and-pepperoni combinations as a food preparation, rather than simply cheese, meaning they could be imported duty-free.

The case is currently before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, and is seen as a serious threat to Canada's farm supply management system.


Windows sales cloudy

NEW YORK -- Microsoft is seeing slow sales of a version of Windows designed for thin and light tablets, even as the tablet market as a whole is growing, a research firm reported Wednesday.

Researchers at IDC said manufacturers shipped 200,000 tablets running Windows RT, the special version of Windows for iPad-style tablets, in the January to March period. That's down from about 900,000 shipped in the fourth quarter.


-- staff / from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2013 A17

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