Minister vows to block Potash bid for Israel Chemicals
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS PhotoIsrael's finance minister has vowed to block the planned takeover of Israel Chemicals by Canada's Potash Corporation, the world's largest producer of fertilisers, a ministry statement said.
Potash Corporation, which is based in Saskatchewan, has long sought to boost its 14 percent stake in Israel Chemicals (ICL), which is ranked number eight in the world, although it has faced government and regulatory hurdles.
But Finance Minister Yair Lapid pledged on Wednesday to work against the proposed takeover, which analysts say would be worth an estimated $13 billion (9.9 billion euros).
"I will firmly oppose the ICL-Potash deal," the statement quoted him as telling senior members of his office, pledging to "pursue a fighting policy in order to keep a hold on Israel's natural resources." "Israel's natural resources are assets that belong to the public, and the Israeli public should be the first to benefit from them," Lapid said, indicating he would set up a public committee to reexamine the state's rights over national resources which are managed by private firms.
An Israeli official told AFP the government as a whole was against the takeover but had yet to take a final decision.
"According to all the information I have, the government itself is also opposed," the official told AFP.
"Lapid cannot take the decision on his own even if he has significant weight as finance minister." Last year, Potash chief executive Bill Doyle met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials to push for the takeover, according to regulatory filings by ICL's parent company, Israel Corporation.
The bid to increase its stake was confirmed by the Canadian firm in an October statement.
"Discussions have occurred with Israeli government officials around potential options to increase our ownership stake in Israel Chemicals," it said, indicating that no talks were still underway.
ICL produces potash through its Dead Sea Works subsidiary.