ICL Drops as Sale to Potash Corp. Is Seen More Unlikely

Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) fell the most in three weeks in Tel Aviv after the chances of being acquired by Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. appeared less likely of receiving the required Israeli regulatory approvals.

The shares of the company that extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make fertilizer slid 2.4 percent, the biggest drop since Oct. 9, to 47.35 shekels at the 4:30 p.m. close in Tel Aviv. The stock was the second-biggest loser on the benchmark TA-25 Index (TA-25), which retreated 0.3 percent.

Executives at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Potash held talks with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and met with government agencies about the “possibility of a merger,” Israel Corp. (ILCO) said last week in a statement to Tel Aviv’s stock exchange. Israel Corp. owns 52.3 percent of Israel Chemicals.

Israel Corp. shares declined 3 percent, the biggest since Oct. 9, to 2,583 shekels, the worst in the TA-25 today. Israel Corp. said today any deal for Israel Chemicals would be subject to regulatory approvals including the antitrust authority and the tax authority.

“The shares are dropping on estimates the deal won’t go through because of the sensitivity around a natural resource like the Dead Sea,” Guil Bashan, an analyst at I.B.I-Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said today by phone. “The move could be seen as not good by the public.”

‘Not on Agenda’

Israel’s Finance Ministry on Nov. 2 asked Potash to clarify its proposed acquisition after the ministry said the previous day that the Canadian company’s offer is “not on the agenda” and it has “professional reservations” about the transaction.

The government “won’t allow any deal that endangers or impairs the economic and environmental interests of the State of Israel and its citizens,” the Finance Ministry said in a Nov. 1 statement.

Any deal comes as the Dead Sea shrinks at a record rate, prompting calls for Israel and Jordan to stop fertilizer makers from siphoning so much of the water that has attracted visitors since biblical times.

Friends of the Earth Middle East said today it plans to fight any sale of Israel Chemicals to Potash Corp. as transferring ownership of the country’s natural resources to a multinational will make it harder for the government to change royalties and advance environmental legislation.

Netanyahu called for early elections last month as the government faces a deadlock on how to deal with its budget deficit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shoshanna Solomon in Tel Aviv at ssolomon22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net

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