December 7, 2016 / 10:36 AM / 3 years ago

Russia's Acron says no plans to sell Azoty stake, Canadian assets

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian fertilizer maker Acron (AKRN.MM) is not planning to sell its potash assets in Canada or a stake in Poland’s biggest chemicals group, state-run Azoty (ATTP.WA), the company’s chairman told Reuters.

Sources told Reuters in September that Acron was in talks with Poland’s treasury ministry about selling its stake in Azoty.

“We have this stake on hold for now,” said Acron board chairman Alexander Popov on the sidelines of the Sberbank CIB Metals and Mining Conference in Moscow.

Asked about Acron’s potash assets in Canada, he said: “We’re not selling, we’re going to develop these assets.”

Acron tried to buy a controlling stake in Azoty Tarnow in 2012 but Poland considered the move a hostile takeover and blocked the bid by merging Azoty with state-run rivals.

The Russian firm ended up with 13 percent of Azoty, which it then increased to 20 percent in 2014. Earlier this year it sold a small stake, raising questions over its longer-term plans.

Poland has long been reluctant to allow its historical adversary Russia to gain a foothold in certain industry sectors and relations between Warsaw and Moscow deteriorated further over the Ukraine crisis in 2014.

An industry source said Acron could still sell its Canadian assets but was waiting for a better price.

“Acron is ready to sell anytime. But they may wait for the right market window,” the source said. “Also, Acron bought the asset for a high price and would face writedowns.”

Reporting by Svetlana Burmistrova in Moscow; additional reporting by Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Louise Heavens

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