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Fertilizer company Agrium Inc. (AGU - Analyst Report) announced that its present Chief Operating Officer (COO) Chuck Magro will succeed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mike Wilson upon the latter’s retirement. The transition will be effective Dec 31, 2013.

Magro will succeed Wilson who joined Agrium as Executive Vice President and COO in Aug 2000 and was appointed the company’s President and CEO in 2003.

Magro will join Agrium’s board of directors immediately and work with management to ensure a smooth transition. However, he will take up CEO’s role from Dec 31, 2013.  Magro will work with the directors to ensure that integrated strategy delivers superior results for shareholders.

Prior to the appointment of Magro as the COO in 2012, he held the role of Executive Vice President, Corporate Development & Chief Risk Officer at Agrium. He was also responsible for a number of core areas within Agrium including corporate development and strategy, EHS&S, sustainability & stakeholder relations, internal audit, and risk management. He also served as the Vice President, Manufacturing and was responsible for the company’s wholesale manufacturing facilities.

Before joining Agrium, Magro served Nova Chemicals as a process engineer. He gained extensive experience in plant and operations management, and product line management. He also led a major strategic growth project, supply chain team and investor relations.

Separately, Agrium successfully completed the acquisition of Viterra Inc's Canadian retail assets on Oct 1. The company had cleared the Canadian competition review process on Sep 5 after entering into a consent agreement with the Canadian Competition Bureau.

As part of the agreement, Agrium acquired about 210 retail stores across Western Canada in addition to the 13 previously acquired Viterra retail locations in Australia. The overall consideration for the retail assets in Canada and Australia is roughly C$300 million ($290.2 million).

Agrium, which is a prominent Canadian fertilizer company along with Potash Corp. (POT - Analyst Report), believes that the acquisition of Viterra’s assets is an excellent fit to its portfolio as it will be able to provide highly competitive products, services and technologies by combining its experience with Viterra's profound knowledge of western Canadian agriculture.

Viterra's retail assets are expected to contribute an annual EBITDA (net of divestitures) in the range of C$75 million to C$90 million (or $72.5 million to $87 million) excluding synergies and integration costs. Integration of the businesses will begin soon.

Agrium currently retains a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). However, in the fertilizer industry, China BlueChip ADR , with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy,) and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (SMG - Snapshot Report), with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), are good options for investment.
 

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