Potash Corp., a Canadian company, held talks in October with the Israeli government about raising its stake in Israel’s second-largest company by market value from the current 13.84 percent. The deal “is not yet under serious discussion” as Israel prepares for general elections on Jan. 22, Yuval Steinitz said in an interview.
“It will take a few months before we can really discuss it,” Steinitz, 54, said from Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “There are different opinions, but anyhow, I think the next government will have to consider it, if necessary.”
Israel Chemicals employees declared a work dispute in December after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in October with Potash Chief Executive Officer Bill Doyle about the proposed deal. The Israeli government can block takeover bids by using its so-called golden share, allowing the state to prevent a takeover to protect natural resources.
“Two things will be taken into account: the needs and interest of the Israeli company, and more particularly, the interests of the Negev, employment and economic development in the Negev,” Steinitz said. The Negev is the southern region of Israel, including the Dead Sea, from which Israel Chemicals extracts minerals to make fertilizer and potash.
Israel Chemicals is controlled by the Ofer family’s Israel Corp. (ILCO), which owns 52 percent. If Potash Corp. successfully acquires Israel Chemicals, 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 shares added 1.7 percent to 46.57 shekels at the close in Tel Aviv. Israel Corp. gained 5.6 percent, the most since Oct. 31, to 2,530 shekels.
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