The Federal Trade Commission on Monday issued a complaint charging that Agrium, Inc.'s proposed $2.65 billion acquisition of UAP Holding Corporation would be anticompetitive and in violation of federal antitrust laws. The FTC contends the deal would reduce competition in the market for the retail sale of bulk fertilizer and farm stores in several areas of the United States.
The Commission says that bulk fertilizer "is a critical product; without which most growers cannot operate profitably and for which there is no close substitute." Six overlapping areas where the two agricultural product retailers compete directly were pinpointed and a consent order to remedy the acquisition's potential anticompetitive effects was proposed.
Under the terms of the consent order that would resolve the Commission's charges, Agrium is required to sell five UAP farm stores in Michigan and two Agrium stores in Maryland and Virginia within 180 days of the acquisition.