Potash suspense sets Canadian capital a-twitter

Wed Nov 3, 2010 8:14pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - It was like watching the seventh game of the World Series or results of a cliff-hanger election. But in fact the wave of nervous anticipation that overtook the Canadian capital this week was all about ... fertilizer.

The Canadian government's decision on the biggest corporate takeover bid of the year -- BHP Billiton's offer to buy Potash Corp -- was the best kept secret in town.

In the tension-filled hours leading up to the announcement rumors swirled in the newspapers, politicians ratcheted up the rhetoric and all that nervous energy was reflected on Twitter.

"I cannot wait for the potashdecision! It's like watching the World Series, if the World Series was about fertilizer!," wrote one person on the popular information network.

Another mused about the newfound obsession of Canadians, widely viewed as a mild-mannered if somewhat boring people.

"New American friends, now you see why Canadians are such nice people. We spend hours waiting for an announcement about a mineral."

Only federal elections or budgets usually draw as chaotic a crowd of journalists to Ottawa's Parliament Hill, which filled late Wednesday with television cameras and lights waiting for Industry Minister Tony Clement to deliver his final verdict on the BHP bid.

In August, BHP launched its takeover attempt for Saskatchewan-based Potash, one of the world's top producers of the crop nutrient used in fertilizer.   Continued...