Jana `Pleased' With Agrium Changes as It Reduces Stake

Activist investor Jana Partners LLC, which demanded that Canada’s Agrium Inc. separate its retail unit, cut its stake in the company and said it’s “pleased” with changes that have been made.

Jana said today in a filing its holding in Calgary-based Agrium is 2.7 percent. The New York-based hedge fund had a 7.7 percent stake, according to a previous filing in June.

Jana first disclosed its shareholding in Agrium in August 2012. As well as separating the retail arm from the rest of the company, which also produces fertilizers, Jana sought to replace five of the company’s 11 directors with its own nominees. Agrium investors rejected Jana’s nominees at an April meeting.

The fund said today it’s pleased with more capital being returned to Agrium shareholders, the introduction of new metrics measuring profitability of the retail business, and recent management changes. Agrium said Oct. 2 that Chief Operating Officer Chuck Magro will succeed Mike Wilson as chief executive officer at the beginning of 2012.

Jana also said it still believes that an “unbiased review” of Agrium’s structure “would benefit all investors. It said it may continue to hold a stake and engage in talks with Agrium management, board and investors to discuss the company’s costs, controls, capital allocation, company structure and corporate governance.

Agrium fell 1.3 percent to $82.40 in New York. It has dropped 15 percent since Aug 10, 2012, the last trading day before the Wall Street Journal first reported Jana’s interest in Agrium.

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