Potash pursues deal with possible white knights

Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:30am EDT
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By Euan Rocha and Michael Erman

TORONTO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Canada's Potash Corp has been in contact with China's Sinochem and other possible counter-bidders as it fights off an unwanted $39 billion takeover offer from BHP Billiton.

Potash, the world's largest fertilizer supplier, said it expected an alternative to emerge after BHP formally launched its $130 per share hostile bid last week.

Potash Chief Executive Bill Doyle, who stands to make a half-billion-dollar payday from any deal, told Reuters "all sorts of different players" had approached his company and that BHP's offer had "no traction whatsoever" with shareholders.

"Potash Corp has been approached by, and has initiated contact with, a number of third parties who have expressed an interest in considering alternative transactions," the company said in a statement on Monday.

"Discussions are being pursued with several of these third parties in order to generate value enhancing alternatives."

Potash did not name the parties, but a source close to the matter said discussions have been held with Sinochem, China's top fertilizer firm, biggest chemical trader and No. 4 oil firm.

"One wants to explore all the options -- and you can't do that by telekinesis," said the source, who asked not to be named.

Separately, a second source confirmed that Potash Corp was considering joint ventures with third parties as an option.   Continued...

<p>A train car waits in line at the Potash Corp's Cory mine site near Saskatoon August 19, 2010. REUTERS/David Stobbe</p>