Russia in talks for Potash bid

Marion Dakers
A RUSSIAN group said yesterday it was in intensive talks ahead of launching a rival bid for Potash Corp, as BHP Billiton said its blocked $39bn (£24.7bn) bid for fertiliser group Potash Corp was not dead and pledged to work with the Canadian government.

Phosagro claimed it was in intensive talks with the Russian government and potential partners for a rival bid, and said it would announce its next move after 15 November.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for BHP said yesterday that the Anglo-Australian mining giant will continue to work with Industry Canada to resurrect its takeover offer, which was blocked by industry minister on Wednesday night. The firm has 30 days to meet the government’s conditions, which have not been made public.

However, agriculture minister Gerry Ritz hinted yesterday that the BHP’s Australian roots had been a factor. “Australia is a major marketer of a lot of the same foodstuffs that Canada is. We’re a volume producer - so are they,” he said in a speech.

BHP’s London-listed shares rocketed 6.6 per cent yesterday as relieved investors saw the odds of an expensive takeover lengthen dramatically. Shares in Potash fell 2.4 per cent.