NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Chalk one up for Deerfield, Illinois. CF Industries ( CF) has won the fertilizer wars.
The way this drama has unfolded over the last 14 months, it's tempting to hold off -- just yet -- on declaring a final victor in the four-way battle for crop-nutrient market share. But it appears the deal is done: Terra Industries ( TRA) accepted CF's aggressive counteroffer in a joint announcement Friday morning. Precipitating that result was a two-step surrender after Thursday's market close. First, Agrium ( AGU) issued a press release saying that it would halt its pursuit of CF, which it had pressed in fits and starts since February 2009. Then, Norway's Yara Industries announced that it was done bidding on Terra and would go no higher. The pair had struck a deal to combine last month, with Yara paying $41.10 a share in cash for the Sioux City, Iowa, company and a substantial foothold in the fragmented U.S. nitrogen-fertilizer market. In the end, after a year's worth of attempts and put-downs, proposals and rejections, hostile deal tactics and anti-hostile deal tactics, CF threw a show-stopper bid onto the table -- topping Yara's offer by about $6 a share -- and whatever acrimony that may have built up between the two rivals during the long battle quickly fell away -- at least publicly. CF will pay $37.15 in cash plus 0.0953 of a share of CF stock for every Terra share outstanding, of which there are about 98 million, putting the value of the buyout at just under $4.7 billion, based on CF's closing price Thursday. "Terra's board of directors believes that this transaction offers our stockholders a very significant premium for their shares," said Terra's chairman, Henry Slack, in the joint press release. "Taken together with the $7.50 per share special dividend paid by Terra in December, our stockholders are receiving an excellent return on their investment in Terra." For its part, CF is claiming that it can find as much as $135 million worth of synergies at the combined company. Among other things, this will likely mean the shuttering of Terra's Sioux City, Iowa, headquarters, said Edlain Rodriguez, a stock analyst at Broadpoint Gleacher.