China is set to probe BHP’s bid for Potash Corp

CHINA plans to launch an antimonopoly probe into BHP Billiton’s $39bn (£25.2bn) bid for Canada’s Potash Corp.

The probe is another indicator that China, as the world’s biggest importer of fertiliser, is wary of further concentration in the market, following BHP Billiton’s launch of a hostile bid for Potash Corp last month.

But it was unclear what steps, if any, Chinese regulators could take in opposition to the bid.

BHP declined to comment yesterday. But BHP has already said that the deal only needs approvals from regulators in Canada and the United States, where Potash Corp sells around half its production.

China buys around seven per cent of the output of Potash Corp, which controls around one-fifth of world production of the key crop nutrient. Potash demand in the country has been growing by around five to eight per cent a year, faster than other fertilisers.