Nufarm Says Australian Farmers Should Welcome Foreign Investors

Nufarm Ltd., Australia’s largest supplier of agricultural chemicals, said farmers should welcome foreign investors to boost competition for their assets.

“It’s a global business, you cannot get away from that,” Doug Rathbone, managing director of Melbourne-based Nufarm, said yesterday on the Financial Review Sunday program on Channel Nine. “If we close the gate to foreign investment, how do growers and farmers who want to transact in their business get a fair price?”

The remarks come as Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the Decatur, Illinois-based company that is the world’s largest corn processor, awaits approval for its planned A$2.2 billion ($2 billion) takeover of GrainCorp Ltd., an Australian grain handler. The buyout for A$12.20 a share, which must be approved by Australia and China, would give ADM control over seven of the eight ports that ship grain in bulk from Australia’s east coast.

Australian investors haven’t been “particularly enamored” of agriculture, Rathbone said.

ADM agreed to buy GrainCorp in April to add a company that is benefiting from growing demand from Asia. The proposal underscores a push by companies including Glencore International Plc and Hong Kong-based commodity trader Noble Group Ltd. to target agricultural assets, betting on rising demand from Asia as living standards and diets improve.

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