12/07/2012 06:56 EST | Updated 02/06/2013 05:12 EST

Glencore's takeover of Viterra agribusiness cleared by China's government

CALGARY - The $6.1-billion takeover of Canada's Viterra Inc. (TSX:VT) by Swiss commodity trader Glencore International has been approved by China's ministry of commerce.

The decision, announced Friday, is the final regulatory step required for Glencore to buy Viterra, a Regina-based international grain handler that does business in China in addition to major operations in Canada, Australia, the United States and elsewhere.

As a result of the final approval, Glencore expects the effective closing date of the deal to be Dec. 17.

Following that, Glencore will release the funds to Viterra shareholders and the company's stock will be delisted from the Toronto and Australian stock exchanges.

The Viterra takeover received approvals from shareholders and Canadian authorities earlier this year.

The Glencore deal included a side agreement to sell a large chunk of Viterra's business to two other Canadian companies — Calgary-based Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU) and Winnipeg-based Richardson International.

Glencore has also agreed to increase Viterra's projected capital expenditures in Canada by more than $100 million over five years and has said it will contribute to "grain industry initiatives" in Manitoba.

It has also committed to maintaining Viterra's Regina head office and said it will make the location the headquarters for its North American agricultural operations.

Glencore also plans to invest $8 million in Viterra's projected expenses in research and development and plans to work with the Saskatchewan government to establish a Global Institute for Food Security in the province.