Pulse firm’s incorporation, expansion proceed

A Regina-based pulse crop processor expects to complete its plan by Tuesday (Sept. 15) to convert from an income trust to a publicly-traded corporation and wrap up its expansion into pulse and durum processing in Turkey.

Alliance Grain Traders Income Fund, which owns SaskCan Pulse Trading at Regina, SaskCan Horizon Trading at Aberdeen, Sask., United Pulse Trading in North Dakota, and a milling firm in South Australia, announced in July it had reached a $104 million cash-and-stock deal to buy the Arbel Group Companies in Turkey.

The Arbel Group, whose companies include Arbel Bakliyat Hububat Sanayi ve Ticaret (“Arbel”), Durum Gida Sanayi ve Ticaret (“Durum”), and Turkpulse Dis Ticaret (“Turkpulse”) is a major processor of pulses and grains and exporter of pulses and pasta, operating out of the southern port city of Mersin.

It was also already a substantial investor in Alliance Grain’s pulse business, working with Alliance’s CEO Murad Al-Katib. Born in Davidson, Sask. to Turkish immigrants, Al-Katib is credited with connecting Arbel to the pulse industry in his home province.

Alliance will fund the Arbel deal through its now-completed public offering of 6.12 million subscription receipts at $16.25 each. Those receipts are now released from escrow, Alliance said in a release Friday.

That offering raised a total of $99.43 million to “satisfy a portion” of the Arbel acquisition funding, with the rest expected to go to “general corporate purposes.”

Alliance Grain Traders Inc. (AGTI), a subsidiary of the Alliance income fund, would become owner of the Turkish firms’ assets, and is also expected to be the “successor entity” to the income trust as it makes the conversion to a corporate structure.

Alliance Grain’s move away from the income trust structure follows the federal government’s decision to tax income trusts starting in June 2007. Other Canadian ag and food-related income funds such as Village Farms, Ag Growth Industries and Premium Brands have announced such conversions in recent months.

Alliance’s businesses involve sourcing, cleaning, splitting, sorting and bagging specialty crops, mainly for export, including lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and canary seed.

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