UPDATE 2-Potash Corp sees BPC breakup as short term

Wed Aug 7, 2013 4:36pm EDT
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(Adds comments on price, cash to shareholders and China)

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba Aug 7 (Reuters) - Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Chief Executive Bill Doyle said on Wednesday he doesn't expect the breakup of Belarusian Potash Co (BPC) to last long, and he disputed predictions that the split would spur a steep potash price drop.

Doyle, who heads up the world's largest potash producer by capacity, was making his first public comments since Russia's Uralkali OAO exited BPC last week in a dispute with partner Belaruskali.

BPC's breakup and Uralkali's decision to maximize production spooked investors in the potash sector, where the two dominant players, BPC and North American potash export company Canpotex Ltd, have long matched supply to demand to support the crop nutrient's prices.

"My guess is (the breakup will last) shorter rather than longer, and the reason I say that is logic tends to prevail," Doyle said in a question-and-answer session streamed on the company's website. "I don't find too many people that self-destruct intentionally,"

Doyle said he does not see changes ahead for Canpotex and said there are no plans at Potash Corp to alter strategy. Potash Corp, Agrium Inc, and Mosaic Co are the members of Canpotex.

Doyle dismissed Uralkali's prediction that prices could drop 25 percent to less than $300 per tonne as a result of its split from BPC and its push to ramp up production, saying that Potash Corp has seen no sign of that in the past week and doesn't expect to see it.

Emphasizing volume sales over price is not new to the potash industry, he said, going as far back as the 1970s, and the producers that do so "end up hurting themselves more than anyone else".   Continued...