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M&A 2012

We knew that the takeover of Nexen by CNOOC was big but I at least didn’t realize how big it was till I saw the Wall Street Journal’s list (Jan.2, 2013) of the 25 biggest M&A deals world-wide in 2012 where it ranked 5th and was the largest deal made by a Chinese company.

Canada made the list one more time with the takeover of Viterra by Glencore International of Switzerland (actually Anglo-Swiss) in the 25th spot. Viterra has its origins – as Canadian as they get – in the wheat pools and coops of western Caada. Prairie farmers were notoriously distrustful of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and of commodity traders in general. So its ironic, and just a bit sad, that Glencore is a multinational commodity trading company – and mining company, which is pretty problematic these days – and is said to be the world’s largest commodity trader, no less. Also in 2012, in the 2nd largest M&A, Glencore acquired another Swiss multinational mining company, Xstrata, in what was called the biggest mining takeover ever.

While presumably of slight interest and consequence to Investment Canada, Glencore indeed has a chequered history. It was created in 1994 by billionaire commodity trader Marc Rich “who was charged with tax evasion and illegal dealings with Iran, but pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001” as he left office. Glencore is “now owned and runh by Marc Rich’s secretive inner circle of ‘lieutenants’.” (Wikopedia)

RepRisk, a business service that advises stakeholders on the environmental and social risks associated with individual companies, lists on is website “The Most Controversial Mining Companies of 2011.” In a race no-one should want to win, Glencore is ranked 3rd in the world, beating out Canada’s own Barrick Gold in 8th place.

So goes the relentless march of monopoly capital with all its baggage and collateral damage, cannibalizing Canada in the process.

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