Fairfax and AGT-led group buy Omnitrax rail and port assets

The Arctic Gateway Group LP has acquired the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill facilities from Omnitrax Inc, a U.S. provider of railroad transportation services.

Terms weren’t released for the deal, which closed on August 31.

The buying group consisted of Fairfax Financial Holdings, AGT Food and Ingredients Inc and Missinippi Rail LP, a consortium of First Nations and communities. Fairfax and AGT will operate the rail and the port facilities.

Earlier this year, Fairfax and Point North Capital agreed to back the proposed management buyout of AGT, a Regina-based supplier of pulses, staple foods and food ingredients.


Arctic Gateway Group LP Acquires Strategic Rail Link and Arctic Port at Churchill

TORONTO, Sept. 4, 2018 /CNW/ – The Arctic Gateway Group LP, consisting of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (“Fairfax”), AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. (“AGT”), and Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership, a consortium of First Nations and communities (“MRLP”; together with AGT and Fairfax, the “Buying Group”), are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with Omnitrax Inc. (“Omnitrax”) to acquire the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill facilities. The deal closed on Friday, August 31, 2018.

Paul Rivett, President of Fairfax, provided the following statement on behalf of the Buying Group.

“Over the last eight months we have been working diligently with our many partners to come together, develop a business plan and satisfy the principles for successful new ownership of the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill facilities. The Government of Canada acknowledges the value and importance of our inclusive group and is supportive of our efforts providing a long term support package through Western Diversification and Export Development Canada to acquire the assets and implement Phase One of the project which is to repair the rail line, undertake safety and rehabilitation upgrades to the port and the railway assets to efficiently operate freight and passenger services to the Northern communities and the Port. We have commenced repairs by awarding a contract to Cando Rail and Paradox Access Solutions. We are racing against time to attempt to restore services prior to the winter season. The time has come for us to work together with our consortium of First Nations and communities, the Government of Canada, the Provinces and the private sector to build an Arctic gateway for Canada to the world. This will begin the journey to fulfill what many of us have long believed to be possible, which is to operate the railway and port in sustainable ways for the betterment of our communities, and to collectively build an Arctic gateway that contributes to our local, regional and Canadian economic prosperity, to serve and support our neighbors in Nunavut, and to build export and import activities through Canada’s only deep sea Arctic port. Fairfax, AGT and MRLP are each committed to creating commercial business opportunities that will assist in the development of sustainable economic growth, new jobs and the long-term future of Northern communities.”

“We thank Omnitrax, Grand Chief Arlen Dumas and our partners for negotiating in good faith and assisting in the ability to mobilize the repair efforts. The trust in our efforts shown by the Prime Minister, Ministers Carr, Morneau and Bains and the Government of Canada has made this generational project a reality. The leadership of Mayor Mike Spence, Deputy Chief Richard Dumas and Chief Christian Sinclair as members of our negotiating team was invaluable to our success,” added Mr. Rivett.

“The Arctic Gateway Group is the result of efforts to build a broad consortium of northern communities alongside the strength of proven business expertise. The northern communities have formed the Missinippi Rail LP in order to engage with these corporate partners, a limited partnership made up of the original signatory Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, who are as of today’s date, joined by Fox Lake Cree Nation, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, and York Factory First Nation as well as the municipalities located along the rail line. I want to personally thank Pat Broe at Omnitrax for negotiating in good faith and assisting in the completion of this transaction and his personal efforts to get the repairs started immediately by enabling the partnership to mobilize its efforts,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.

“The deal is historic for a number of reasons, foremost of which is that it will return stable and predictable rail service to the north. A 50% ownership stake for the communities and board appointments commensurate with this interest, have been secured by Missinippi Rail LP. Participating communities will enjoy preferential employment and contracting opportunities consistent with modern agreements concerning business in our territories. This is a strong deal for our northern First Nation communities and a strong departure from the status quo of uncertainty over the future operation of these critical pieces of infrastructure. I am proud of our people and look forward to the successes that this project will enable,” added Grand Chief Dumas.

“Since the leadership at Mathias Colomb Cree Nation first spearheaded this initiative we have seen the potential of a truly important project that will benefit all members of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Nations and communities at large. This project represents a key transportation link for our people and we are excited to get it done and commence the second phase of this project which is to create sustainable jobs and economic development for First Nations in Manitoba. Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership is proud to be a 50% owner of this project and we have a united, capable and strong partnership group with Fairfax and AGT,” said MRLP President and Deputy Chief Richard Dumas.

“We’ll have control in the future, and we’ll work toward prosperity,” said Mayor Mike Spence of Churchill. “This is historic; I don’t think there’s another model out there in Canada that would fit into this equation. First Nations, Communities and Municipalities and the private sector hand in hand with the Government of Canada. This will work. We are excited for the future.”

For further information: Omer Al-Katib, Director, Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations, AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., (306) 525-4490, info@agtfoods.com