Deal is on ... apparently

31 May, 2006 08:45 PM
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ABB Grain chief Michael Iwaniw claims the Wheat Australia sale of 350,000t of wheat to Iraq valued at an estimated $90 million is back on.

The deal's apparent rejuvenation comes a week after Wheat Australia announced it would not be able to do business with Iraq.

Mr Iwaniw announced the deal was back on during ABB Grain's half-year results on Monday, saying the parties had come to terms on the sticking points in the terms of the contract.

Wheat Australia is a consortium of ABB Grain, CBH and GrainCorp, set up in March to do business with Iraq after AWB was banned from trading there until the findings of the Cole inquiry are handed down.

Wheat Australia officials baulked slightly at Mr Iwaniw's comments, declining to unequivocally state the deal was resurrected.

Wheat Australia spokesman Rhys Ainsworth said: "We can advise the public that while discussions are progressing very positively, we are not in a position to comment further as yet."

Mr Iwaniw would not specify the price of the contract - whether it was at the original March quote, or whether it reflected the higher market conditions prevalent now.

He said it was a commercially viable price and AWB, from which Wheat Australia will purchase the grain for the contract, was happy.

Mr Iwaniw's comments were the first confirmation from within Wheat Australia ranks that the rumours the sale was back on were correct.

He said although there were still some documents to be signed, agreement had been reached, both verbally and via email.

Last week Mr Ainsworth cited commercial concerns as the reason for the deal's failure, but it is believed the concern focused on a clause in the contract that saw high penalties in place for delayed shipments.

AWB opponents have other ideas, claiming the deal's failure was rooted in Iraq's unwillingness to deal with AWB or any body perceived as being too close to AWB.

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