Tendering process underway for CWB’s future

CWB has initiated a formal tendering process aimed at identifying a potential corporate partner interested in either buying the company, merging with it or entering some other type of partnership arrangement.

Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz confirmed Oct. 17 that the tendering process “has been underway for some time” and is being adjudicated by a nationally recognized accounting firm.

The accounting firm, believed to be Deloitte Canada, was hired by CWB earlier this year to accept bids and identify potential corporate partners.

Ritz did not say when the tendering process was scheduled to conclude. 

“It (the process) has been underway for some time,” he told reporters in Saskatoon.

“As I understand it, the CWB will cast the net as widely as possible. They’re using an accounting firm so that there’s fairness in these tenders coming in. It will be the CWB bringing forward what they think is the best case scenario.”

Terms of the tender, including the deadline for submissions, have not been made public. CWB has declined to comment on the process.

It is believed the tendering process will be used to identify a short list of potential corporate partners, which will then be involved in more in-depth negotiations.

CWB will ultimately select the partner and the deal that it considers most beneficial for the organization and western Canadian farmers.

CWB must submit a privatization plan to the federal government by July 31, 2016. Sources in the industry suggest the privatization plan will be completed and submitted to government well in advance of that deadline.

Ritz said he was aware of a package that Saskatoon-based Farmers of North America (FNA) is currently putting together.

FNA is attempting to raise as much as $380 million in farmer capital to build a grain company and/or buy a controlling stake in CWB.

Ritz said FNA officials were late coming to the table, despite being informed eight to 10 months ago that a tendering process might be initiated.

“I first spoke to (FNA executives) Jim Mann and Bob Friesen about the possibility of this eight or 10 months ago … so they’ve taken quite a while to throw their hat in the ring,” Ritz said.

“They’re a little slow off the starting line, but that doesn’t mean their issues aren’t taken seriously.”

Ritz said tendering bids are open to all types of organizations, including multinational grain companies and farmer-supported organizations based in Canada.

“I think anything is on the table,” he said.