Agrium Inc. said it will consider buying some of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc.’s assets should BHP Billiton Ltd. seek to sell some following any successful takeover of the Canadian fertilizer company.
“If those assets come out at a value that makes sense for Agrium, of course we would look at them,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Wilson said today in an interview. The company is interested in agricultural assets and businesses “in any part of the world,” he said.
BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, this month made a hostile $40 billion bid for Potash Corp. as rising global food consumption drives demand for crop nutrients. BHP may seek to sell the nitrogen and phosphate businesses of the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company if its bid succeeds, UBS AG analysts led by Glyn Lawcock said in an Aug. 27 report.
“We would be interested in nitrogen, we would be interested in phosphate and we would even love their potash if they wanted to spin some out,” Wilson, 59, said in Melbourne.
Agrium, North America’s third-largest fertilizer producer by market value, is awaiting approvals to complete a A$1.2 billion ($1.1 billion) bid for AWB Ltd., Australia’s largest wheat exporter and No. 2 rural services company. The Calgary, Alberta-based company has the funds to pursue more acquisitions, Wilson said.
The outlook overall is “very good” for nitrogen, phosphate and potash-based fertilizers, Wilson said.
“Potash has significantly more upside than downside,” he said. “Phosphate may come under a little pressure next year as there is some new capacity coming on, but I think that would be absorbed over a 12-to-18 month period and the world will need more again.”
Agrium markets its potash through Canpotex Ltd., whose shareholders also include Potash Corp. and Mosaic Co. BHP has said it will seek to exit the joint venture if its bid is successful.
“If BHP chose to join that would be great, if BHP decided not to join that is fine also,” Wilson said.