Sinofert Has Been in Potash Acquisition Talks, CEO Feng Says

Sinofert Holdings Ltd. (297), a unit of China’s largest chemicals trader, said it has been in talks with foreign potash companies about acquisitions after a decline in the value of potential targets.

“As the market value of some overseas potash companies has fallen 40 percent or more, we are seeing buying opportunities,” Feng Zhibin, chief executive officer of the Beijing-based company, told reporters today in Hong Kong. He declined to give any further details on the talks.

Sinofert, 22 percent owned by Saskatoon, Canada-based Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., aims to boost potash output as China’s growing population and prosperity spur demand for food. World potash demand will rise 3 percent this year, leaving a shortage, because of delays in commissioning new capacity, according to the International Fertilizer Industry Association.

Shares of some potash companies have dropped in the past year amid concerns slowing global growth may erode demand for potash, a form of potassium used by farmers to make plants more resistant to drought. The Bloomberg Global Leaders Fertilizers index has declined 24 percent from a year-high in July.

Potash Corp. (POT), the world’s largest fertilizer producer, has declined 15 percent in Toronto in the past year and Mosaic Co. (MOS), the largest U.S. potash producer, dropped 25 percent in New York.

Sinofert today reported its 2011 net income rose 27 percent to 678 million yuan ($108 million) from a year ago. Shares added 4.6 percent to close at HK$2.07, beating a 0.2 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Seeking Mines

The company is seeking to buy potash and phosphate mines both inside and outside China, Senior Vice President Harry Yang said in an interview Feb. 24. So far the company hasn’t found anything “economically workable,” he said then.

Sinochem Group, the parent of Sinofert, was cited by analysts as a probable counter bidder to BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP)’s $40 billion unsuccessful offer for Potash Corp. in 2010. Canada rejected BHP’s bid, saying it didn’t provide a “net benefit” to the country. Sinochem also approached Nufarm Ltd. (NUF), Australia’s biggest supplier of farm chemicals, in 2009 for a possible takeover, Nufarm said in a statement in July 2009.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Fox Hu in Hong Kong at fhu7@bloomberg.net; Helen Yuan in Shanghai at hyuan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net

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