Take Stock – June 17

The consolidated surplus for all Canadian governments, including the two major pension plans, fell to $2.4 billion from $31.5 billion between the fiscal years ending March 31, 2008 and March 31, 2009.

Government surpluses shrink last fiscal year: Statscan

The consolidated surplus for all Canadian governments, including the two major pension plans, fell to $2.4 billion from $31.5 billion between the fiscal years ending March 31, 2008 and March 31, 2009.

Statistics Canada reports the deterioration came as expenditures continued to increase while revenues fell during the year.

The agency says the federal government’s financial position fell to a surplus of $883 million from a surplus of $12.8 billion. At the same time, the financial position of provincial, territorial and local governments went to a combined deficit of $9.7 billion from a combined surplus of $6.9 billion. The two major pension plans recorded a surplus of $11.2 billion, down from $11.8 billion.

Consolidated government revenues declined 2.1 per cent to $633.7 billion during the fiscal year ending March 2009, while expenditures grew 2.5 per cent to $631.3 billion.

Among revenue sources, income taxes fell 7.7 per cent, attributable almost entirely to a decrease in corporate income taxes. In addition, consumption taxes declined 4.1 per cent, mostly due to a drop in general sales tax revenues.

Riskmetrics recommends Agrium offer for CF

Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU) said Tuesday that shareholder firm RiskMetrics Group is recommending CF Industries Holdings Inc.(NYSE: CF) stockholders approve its more than US$4-billion takeover of the fellow fertilizer company. Calgary-based Agrium said the deal, which values CF at US$88.20 per share based on Tuesday’s closing price, “is far superior to any alternative.”

“We are pleased that RiskMetrics has recommended that CF stockholders tender their shares into Agrium’s compelling offer,” stated Agrium president and CEO Mike Wilson. Agrium said the offer is a 59-per-cent premium to CF’s closing price on February 24, the day before Agrium announced its initial proposal. The offer expires late Monday.

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