China concerned over BHP's bid for Potash Corp

Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:42am EDT
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - China will pay close attention to the $39 billion bid that top global miner BHP Billiton is making for the world's biggest fertilizer maker, Potash Corp, the Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday.

"Such a deal will definitely be a concern for the global potash industry, including China's potash industry," Yao Jian, the ministry's spokesman, told a regular news conference.

Asked whether the ministry would probe a successful bid under its anti-monopoly powers, Yao said: "We will pay close attention to it and if we receive a formal application, we will carry out investigations according to the law."

Yao said the ministry had not been notified by Sinochem Corp, the parent of China's largest fertilizer distributor, Sinofert Holdings, or any other Chinese company about a possible counterbid for Potash Corp.

"We have not received any material or information (about a bid) from any individual domestic company," he said.

Sources told Reuters earlier that Sinochem Corp had invited Singaporean state investor Temasek Holdings to join a consortium that may bid for Potash Corp.

China, which typically buys about 7 percent of the output of Potash Corp, fears a BHP takeover might push up the cost of fertilizers that it will need to produce food for its huge population in coming years.

A source told Reuters earlier that Chinese officials have ordered state-owned companies to meet with investment bankers to explore potential options to block BHP's bid for Potash.

(Reporting by Zhou Xin and Alan Wheatley; Editing by Ken Wills)

 
<p>Potash Corp mill general superintendent Trevor Berg holds a handful of chicklet potash inside the Cory mine facilities near Saskatoon August 19, 2010. REUTERS/David Stobbe</p>