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Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Potash Corp determined to buy Israeli company

Tags: Israel
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Mineral extraction in the Dead Sea

A Canadian fertilizer company is determined to buy a major Israeli chemical company, despite opposition among MKs and employees of the Israeli company.

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan is seeking to acquire a controlling stake in ICL, Israel Chemicals Ltd., Israel’s second-largest corporation by market size.

More than 20 Israeli lawmakers met in Jerusalem on Feb. 27 to discuss the issue, with some voicing strong opposition to the deal, according to Bloomberg.

“The sale of ICL to a foreign company would be abandoning residents of the Negev region and a slap in the face of every citizen of Israel,” Yesh Atid MK Meir Cohen was quoted as saying.

Potash Corp is the largest producer of the potash crop nutrient and currently owns a 14 per cent stake in ICL, which mines chemicals from the Dead Sea and is the world’s sixth-largest producer of potash.

“The opposition you’re seeing now is fear of the unknown,” Potash Corp chief financial officer Wayne Brownlee said Feb. 26. Brownlee, speaking at a conference in Florida, said Potash Corp wouldn’t cut production or lay off ICL employees.

But that hasn’t placated Israel Chemicals employees, who plan to stage protests in coming weeks to try to block the deal, according to Reuters.

Before discussions begin between the companies, Potash Corp must secure approval from the Israeli government, and talks are currently suspended due to “political events,” Brownlee said Feb. 26. Israel is currently in the process of forming a new government.

The removal of water from the Dead Water to mine lucrative chemical products such as potash has been blamed for the shrinking of the popular natural attraction. The flow of water into the sea was 100 million cubic metres in 2008, down from 1.4 billion cubic meters in 1948 when Israel was founded.

In additional to fertilizer, potash is also used to make glass and soap.

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