December 10, 2019 / 5:26 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 2-K+S says considering sale of stakes in North American businesses

(Adds background, details on debt target)

FRANKFURT, Dec 10 (Reuters) - German potash and salt miner K+S said it was looking into selling stakes in its North American businesses because an ongoing cost cutting push would not yield enough savings to reach its debt reduction target.

A company spokesman said K+S was considering selling a stake in its Bethune potash mine in Canada - which the company values at nearly 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) - or bringing in an industry partner. It ruled out an outright sale of the plant.

He added that K+S was also considering all options for its salt business in North and South America, which includes the Morton Salt brand.

The group was favouring a stake sale, which could be done via an initial public offering, the spokesman added.

K+S has slashed production this year in response to weak demand for potash, following the lead of rivals such as Nutrien .

The group said it had become clear that ongoing cost cuts alone were not enough to reach a target to cut net debt as a multiple of EBITDA to about 2.7 times by end-2020 from 4.3 times recently.

K+S in 2015 fended off a 7.9 billion euro takeover approach from Nutrien, at the time called Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, of 41 euros per share.

K+S shares closed 4.1% higher at 10.805 euros on Tuesday.

$1 = 0.9073 euros Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Thomas Seythal, Kirsten Donovan

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