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Israeli finance chief ‘adamantly’ opposes Potash Corp. plans to acquire ICL

A Potash Corp. operation.

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Plans by Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. to acquire majority control of Israel Chemicals Ltd. have run into another roadblock after the country's new finance minister said on Wednesday he would oppose a deal, Bloomberg news reported.

That would pose a problem to Potash Corp. because Israel's government holds a golden share in ICL, a company that holds exclusive mining rights to the Dead Sea.

"The State of Israel's natural resources are a public asset and the Israeli public should be the first to benefit from them," Israel's new finance minister Yair Lapid told Bloomberg news in an e-mail, adding that he would "adamantly oppose" the proposed purchase.

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Potash Corp., which already holds a 14-per-cent stake in ICL, has been in talks with the Israeli government since November to acquire a majority ownership of the company. The proposal has met local opposition because it would put a key state asset into the hands of the Canadian fertilizer giant even as it targets massive, organic growth.

Potash Corp. could not be reached for immediate comment on Wednesday.

In February chief financial officer Wayne Brownlee said any increment in its ownership would have to give it a majority stake in ICL, which is a major supplier into the European market where Potash Corp. has not presence.

Most of the world's potash supply is in the hands of Canpotex, the international marketing arm of producers that include Potash Corp., Mosaic Co. and Agrium Inc., or Canpotex's Russian counterpart Belarus Potash Co., the trading joint venture of Uralkali and Belaruskali.

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About the Author
Mining Reporter

Pav Jordan is a mining reporter for the Report on Business. More

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