UPDATE 2-Potash Corp to cut workforce by 18 pct as prices slump

Tue Dec 3, 2013 9:25am EST
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By Rod Nickel and Ashutosh Pandey

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc , the world's biggest fertilizer company, will slash its workforce by 18 percent as it struggles with slumping demand and weak prices for the crop nutrient.

The cuts will amount to more than 1,000 jobs in Canada, the United States and Trinidad, including about 570 positions in its potash operations, the company said on Tuesday.

"The need to become more globally competitive is what's behind all of these workforce reductions," Chief Executive Bill Doyle told Reuters in an interview.

"Our belief in the fundamentals of the business has not changed at all. This is simply an adjustment to the current and foreseeable market conditions."

Potash Corp has often acted as the swing producer in the global market, trimming production and putting workers on furlough when demand is weak. The severity of the permanent job cuts, especially in its core potash operations, indicates it is girding for a long-term slump in the potash market.

Potash Corp shares edged up 0.3 percent to $31.82 in premarket trading in New York.

Doyle said Potash Corp will not cut its dividend, which was raised in May, and has no immediate plans to scale down a share buyback program. The company also intends to complete the 10-year, $8-billion expansion of its Canadian potash mines, slated to wrap up in the next year.   Continued...