Viterra to buy ILTA Grain pulse processing plant

Creditor-protected Prairie pulse processor and exporter ILTA Grain is set to sell a next-to-new southern Saskatchewan facility to one of Canada’s biggest grain firms.

Glencore Agriculture’s Viterra arm said Tuesday it has signed a purchase deal for the assets of ILTA’s processing facility at Belle Plaine, Sask., about 25 km east of Moose Jaw. Financial terms of the deal weren’t released.

The deal is expected to close Aug. 27, subject to the usual closing conditions as well as approval from the Supreme Court of British Columbia. That approval will be sought at a hearing Friday, Viterra said.

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Surrey, B.C.-based ILTA started building the Belle Plaine plant in 2015, describing the site as “the heart of a major specialty grain production area and well positioned from a transportation perspective.”

Completed in 2017, the facility is connected to Canadian Pacific Railway’s mainline, with a 135-railcar loop track and storage capacity of 22,000 tonnes.

According to ILTA’s court-appointed monitor, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the site has capacity to process about 350,000 tonnes of crops per year.

Regina-based Viterra on Tuesday said the site “can handle a wide range of pulses and other commodities, and provides added value through precision cleaning and conveyor equipment to prepare and ship crops for export.”

The Belle Plaine operation, built on 350 acres, also has “multiple logistics capabilities including container, bagged, intermodal, truck and bulk rail shipments,” Viterra said.

“We firmly believe that our operational and logistical expertise, combined with our focus on superior service and unrivalled market insight, will allow us to bring this facility to its full potential for the benefit of our customers,” Kyle Jeworski, Viterra’s CEO for North America, said in Tuesday’s release.

Viterra’s facilities nearest to Belle Plaine include an elevator just west of Moose Jaw and a dedicated mustard plant in that city.

‘Broader process’

ILTA entered creditor protection on July 8, citing falling revenue due to “increasingly challenging international trade conditions,” as customer countries such as India, China and Saudi Arabia limited or halted imports from Canada.

PwC, in its Aug. 1 report to the court, said it had been working with a party which, prior to ILTA’s creditor protection filing, submitted a letter of intent to buy the Belle Plaine site. The report didn’t mention Viterra by name.

PwC’s report said the plan was to either “meaningfully advance” a deal with that buyer for the Belle Plaine site or add it to the “broader sales process” for ILTA’s five other plants.

Ontario-based Hensall District Co-op in January closed a deal to buy ILTA’s plant at Bloom, Man., about 15 km west of Portage la Prairie. Hensall later said it would also exercise its previously agreed-upon option to buy ILTA’s receiving station at Miami, Man., about 85 km south of Bloom.

That deal closed July 24, after ILTA’s secured lenders confirmed they had no interest in the Miami site, PwC said.

Interest from potential buyers in deals for ILTA’s other assets “has unfolded in a positive manner,” PwC said in the Aug. 1 report, noting plans for a “non-binding bid deadline” of Aug. 26. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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