Potash Corp begins hunt for a richer offer

Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:32pm EDT
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BY Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - Potash Corp moved on Thursday to find a buyer willing to top BHP Billiton's $39 billion hostile offer for the world's largest fertilizer company as shareholders balked at a bid they consider too light to support.

Potash Corp is soliciting alternative bidders willing to pay more than the $130 a share offered by BHP, the world's largest mining company, a source close to the matter said.

At $39 billion, the total value of the BHP offer is the highest in any industry this year.

"Any time you get something like this you explore all your options," said the source, who asked not to be named. "There are a lot of ways to get creative about this thing."

The source told Reuters that Potash Corp was confident that the alternative bids would emerge for the leader of an industry with huge growth potential. "The notion is that this is the Cadillac of the (fertilizer) business."

Earlier Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported Potash Corp was exploring potential alliances with global chemical and agricultural companies, as well as Chinese sovereign banks, citing people familiar with the matter.

Potash Corp, based in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, declined comment.

Earlier this week, Potash's board flatly rejected the BHP bid, and the Australian mining giant said it would take the offer directly to shareholders, many of whom have said they'll hold out for a richer deal.   Continued...

<p>Mill manager Josh Wheeler examines a pile of processed potash at the Mosaic Potash Colonsay mine storage facility in Colonsay, Saskatchewan in this file image from September 24, 2009. REUTERS/David Stobbe/Files</p>