City sceptical on the prospect of rival offers for PotashCorp

ANALYSTS yesterday poured scorn on talk of rival white knight offers waiting in the wings to scupper BHP Billiton’s $39bn (£24.5bn) bid for Canadian fertiliser giant PotashCorp.

Reports over the weekend suggested both the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and Chinese state-owned chemicals group Sinochem had already approached Temasek with a view to trying to find a partner to bid for all or part of PotashCorp.

But City analysts said the length of time which has already elapsed since BHP’s bid – almost eight weeks – and the increasing complexity of deals being discussed meant BHP is likely to have a clear run at the company.

“With six weeks to go before the BHP offer closes it is clear that the Chinese look unlikely to enter the fray and the schemes being tabled now are becoming increasingly political, complex and difficult to execute,” Liberum Capital said yesterday.

“We feel the defence is running out of ideas and if they succeed in seeing off BHP it is because they have blocked the deal (politically or otherwise) and not because they have tabled a knock-out premium bid.”

PotashCorp is currently working on contingency plans to break up the company as a way of batting away BHP’s bid, including selling $14bn of nitrogen and phosphorous assets.