Mosaic poised to become takeover target, analysts say
Financial analysts said Thursday Mosaic Co. is about to become a target for a takeover later this month, and BHP Billiton is seen as the likely suitor.
Mosaic is North America's second-biggest producer of potash.
On May 26, Mosaic shares that were previously restricted will be available for sale, opening the door to a sale of the company.
Brad DeLorey, a spokesman for Minnesota-based Mosaic, declined comment on whether the company is considering a sale or has been approached by potential buyers.
"We do not respond to any type of speculation," he said.
BHP likely buyer
John Chu, an agriculture analyst with AltaCorp, said BHP would be the most logical buyer because it tried to take over another potash company in Saskatchewan, Potashcorp, in 2010.
"If you're trying to look at a way for them to enter the business fairly quickly via acquisition then looking at Mosaic, which is effectively a top three producer, would make some sense," Chu said.
Canada blocked BHP's $40 billion hostile bid for Potashcorp in 2010, saying the sale of the Saskatoon-based company would not provide a net benefit to the country.
Mosaic, which is headquarted in the U.S., already has potash mines in Saskatchewan so Chu says an acquisition of the company would likely face less government intervention.
Chu said it's unclear what impact a takeover might have on Saskatchewan.
"BHP would probably not go forward with their Jansen project in Saskatchewan," he said.
Chu said that would remove a potential over-supply. But he said BHP might prefer to operate at full capacity, keeping prices low.
"That could be negative for the government of Saskatchewan, obviously. from a royalty and revenue perspective," he said.
CBC News reached BHP Billiton Friday, but the compnay has declined to comment.