September 16, 2015 / 4:09 PM / in 2 years

UPDATE 3-Potash Corp, K+S not actively discussing takeover -Potash CEO

(Adds no comment from K+S, updates share prices)

By Rod Nickel

Sept 16 (Reuters) - Potash Corp of Saskatchewan is not actively discussing its takeover proposal with Germany’s K+S, but remains interested in a combination of fertilizer producers that would aid North American potash sales and offer new access to Europe, Chief Executive Jochen Tilk said on Wednesday.

Potash Corp’s standing offer of 7.9 billion euros ($8.90 billion) or 41 euros per share is appealing to K+S shareholders, Tilk said at an investors’ conference in New York organized by Credit Suisse.

“It was attractive when we made it (in July). Marketing conditions have changed, we think it’s even more attractive now,” he said. “I will not put words in K+S shareholders’ mouths but I think most of them feel that is an appropriate offer in terms of premium.”

A K+S spokesman declined to comment.

Shares of K+S dipped after Tilk’s comments and closed down 0.2 percent at 33.58 euros in Frankfurt. Potash shares were up 1.8 percent at $25.44 in New York and up 1.3 percent at C$33.51 in Toronto on Wednesday afternoon.

Potash Corp’s interest in K+S comes as the over-built potash industry struggles with low prices.

China imposed a value-added tax this month that will make potash modestly more costly to its rice farmers, Tilk said. Recession in Brazil and the U.S. dollar’s strength are also hurting producers, he said.

K+S, EuroChem and others, meanwhile, are building new mines.

“The next 5 years will be somewhat challenging in terms of supply and demand,” Tilk said.

Negotiations with China look to be “tough” for a 2016 potash supply contract, Tilk said.

A takeover would give Potash Corp a chance to realize savings from selling potash within North America from its own Western Canada mines jointly with potash from K+S’ Legacy mine, which is under construction in the region, Tilk said.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Potash Corp made a fresh attempt in July to entice K+S into takeover talks, but the salt and fertilizer company rejected it. Earlier that month, K+S rebuffed Potash Corp’s offer as too low and suggested the suitor was planning to shrink the company.

Germany’s Handlesblatt reported last week that a hostile bid was imminent, but Scotiabank analyst Ben Isaacson said in a note on Tuesday that there appeared to be little interest in Germany in a deal. ($1 = 0.8872 euro) (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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