"Potash Producer Rejects Bid by BHP Billiton"

"OTTAWA -- Rising demand for food from the fast-growing economies of the world has provoked a staggering $38.6 billion cash offer for a Canadian fertilizer company.

The company, the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, on Tuesday rejected the overture from BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company. Yet the unsolicited offer, which would be the biggest takeover so far this year, raised investors’ hopes of a revival in deals, bolstering stocks worldwide.

The major measures of the United States market rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday, as basic materials stocks led all sectors in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. The S.& P. 500 had its biggest gain in two weeks.

Amid the heady talk of mergers, economists and analysts cautioned against assuming that the offer was a clear signal that commodities were finally shaking off the effects of the global recession. Instead, the interest of the British-Australian BHP in Potash, the world’s largest producer of potash, a crucial ingredient in most fertilizers, has more to do with global changes in food production and the peculiarities of the potash market, they said."

Ian Austen and Michael J. de la Merced report for the New York Times August 17, 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010