Agrium, PotashCorp merger waiting on U.S. after Chinese approval

(Source: Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc.)

The merger of Agrium and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan to form a new company called Nutrien took another step toward completion this week.

China’s Ministry of Commerce gave a green light to the deal, with some conditions attached.

The Chinese regulator says PotashCorp’s minority stake in Arab Potash Company and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. must be sold within 18 months and Israel Chemicals Ltd. within 9 months after the closing of the merger.

The Nutrien deal has now been cleared by regulators in Canada, Brazil, China, India and Mexico. Both companies say they still expect to gain U.S. approval and close the transaction before the end of 2017.

To address U.S. regulatory concerns, Agrium announced the sale of two of its U.S. assets on Tuesday.

Agrium has reached a deal to sell its Conda, Idaho phosphate production facility and adjacent phosphate mineral rights to Itafos for $100-million. An agreement has also been reached to sell its North Bend, Ohio nitric acid facility to Trammo Nitrogen Products, Inc.

“The divestment of these assets will help pave the way for our merger with PotashCorp and the excellent line of sight to capture $500-million in annual synergies. With Itafos operating the SPA business and Trammo operating the nitric acid business, farmers and industrial customers will be served across the U.S. for many years to come,” said Agrium’s president and CEO, Chuck Magro.

Agrium and Itafos have also entered into long-term supply and off-take agreements for the plant at Conda, Idaho, with Agrium supplying 100 percent of the ammonia requirements and purchasing 100 percent of MAP product produced, with pricing formulas based on benchmark phosphate fertilizer prices.

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