NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- An answer to the question won't emerge for some time: Who really won the Fertilizer Wars, a protracted M&A contest that saw CF Industries (CF) - Get CF Industries Holdings, Inc. Report, Terra Industries (TRA) , Agrium (AGU) and Yara Industries square off for choice North American market share?
The agrarian businesses appear to be poised for a revitalized 2010, at least according to many pundits and market watchers. The optimists base their outlook on the idea that farmers are again ready to stock up on their crop nutrients in front of the spring planting season.
A lot of that perceived upside has been priced into ag stocks, however, and critics have wondered whether CF paid too much when it came back into battle with a highly sweetened offer for Terra,
For readers of TheStreet, the ultimate victor in the Fertilizer Wars is Agrium, the diversified Canadian crop-nutrient maker and ag-product retailer that chose to step aside in its hostile pursuit of CF. Agrium received more than a third of the vote (33.16%, to be exact) for its decision to, ultimately, do absolutely nothing.
In second place was a category of deal participant that
makes out when big corporate deals get done: the bankers and lawyers who advise CEOs on the ins-and-outs of mergers and acquisitions. The Fertilizer Wars employed nearly every white-shoe deal firm in New York, on both the banking and legal side:
. Wachtell Lipton, Skadden Arps, Cravath Swaine & Moore.
The bankers and lawyers collected millions upon millions in fees, along with more than 27% of the clicks in our poll.
In terms of the two ultimate deal-participants, readers of
picked CF Industries' shareholders above those of Terra Industries, despite the fact that CF will likely dilute its current owners. The Deerfield, Ill., company said it plans to issue about $1 billion worth of stock to help pay for the Terra purchase. But readers must be thinking longer term. Shares of CF have fallen 10% since it announced its final bid for Terra.
CF holders received 19.4% of the votes, putting it in third place in our poll, while Terra holders received nearly 16%.
Bringing up the rear in the survey was Norway's Yara (4.4% of votes), the late-comer to the fertilizer drama. The company decided not to raise its offer to match CF's.
-- Written by Scott Eden in New York
Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.