Canada Must Heed Saskatchewan on BHP’s Potash Bid, Martin Says

Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said BHP Billiton Ltd.’s $40 billion hostile offer for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. needs careful scrutiny after the provincial government objected to the sale.

“The government of Saskatchewan has spoken,” Martin said in a Bloomberg Television interview in London today. “People have got to give full consideration to what Saskatchewan is saying.”

The federal government can block the transaction if it finds it doesn’t provide a “net benefit” to the country. Canada has until Nov. 3 to complete a review of the bid, unless Melbourne-based BHP, the world’s largest mining company, agrees to an extension.

Saskatchewan’s energy minister Bill Boyd said in an interview yesterday Canada should block the BHP bid because it fails the net benefit test and there is no need for any new discussions with the company. Potash Corp., based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has rejected BHP’s $130-a-share offer as too low and said it was seeking alternatives amid rising prices for agricultural commodities.

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