Israel to Weigh Detailed Potash Request on Proposed Takeover

Israeli officials asked fertilizer producer Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. to clarify its proposed acquisition of Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL), the country’s second-largest company by market value.

Officials will make recommendations on the bid after reviewing a detailed application to be submitted by Potash Corp., Finance Ministry Director General Doron Cohen said today in an e-mail. Bill Johnson, a Potash Corp. spokesman, declined to comment.

Potash Corp. has a 14 percent stake in Tel Aviv-based Israel Chemicals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Israel Chemicals is controlled by the Ofer family’s Israel Corp. The Israeli government can block takeover bids using its so-called golden share.

The Canadian company’s proposed offer is “not on the agenda,” the Finance Ministry said yesterday in a statement. The ministry also said yesterday it has “professional reservations” about the transaction and the government “won’t allow any deal that endangers or impairs the economic and environmental interests of the State of Israel and its citizens.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Oct. 31 that he’d met with Potash Corp. Chief Executive Officer Bill Doyle, and that talks about a sale to the Canadian company were continuing.

If Potash Corp. successfully acquires Israel Chemicals, which harvests potash from the Dead Sea, it would become the largest producer of its namesake crop nutrient with control of about 25 percent of global production capacity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The 86 percent of the company that Potash Corp. doesn’t already own has a market value of about 53.2 billion shekels ($13.7 billion) based on yesterday’s closing share price, which would make a deal the largest agricultural chemical deal, according to Bloomberg data.

No one at Israel Corp. answered a phone call or responded to an e-mail outside of normal business hours.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. is Israel’s largest company by market value.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alisa Odenheimer in Jerusalem at; Lydia Mulvany in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at

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