Brazil's Vale denies bid for Canada's Potash

Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:22pm EDT
 
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By Denise Luna

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian mining giant Vale on Monday denied market talk it is planning a bid for Canada's Potash Corp, as Potash seeks to fends off a $39 billion takeover offer from Australia's BHP Billiton.

"The rumors that the company has bid to acquire or is negotiating to buy a fertilizer company (are) totally unfounded," Vale said in statement.

Potash, the world's largest fertilizer supplier, said on Monday it had made contact with third parties interested in "alternative transactions," without disclosing names of potential suitors.

Analysts consistently doubted Vale would jump into the BHP-Potash bid, citing its heavy political pressure to invest in Brazil and its existing $10 billion portfolio of fertilizer investments.

A source close to the matter said China's Sinochem was one of the parties that had discussions with the Canadian company.

The company's shares were down 2.42 percent at 42.30 reais in late afternoon trading on Monday.

Vale, the world's largest producer of iron ore, has expanded its fertilizer business in recent months. The former state-run company was privatized in 1997.

In January it agreed to pay $3.8 billion to buy the fertilizer assets in Brazil of U.S.-based Bunge Ltd. It plans to boost production at its Bayovar phosphate mine in Peru by nearly 50 percent over the next 18 months.

The company has phosphate or potash projects in Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Mozambique.

(Reporting by Denise Luna, Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by John Wallace, Phil Berlowitz and Bernard Orr)