UPDATE 2-Potash Corp sees 2013 rebound in world potash shipments

Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:23am IST

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By Rod Nickel

Nov 15 (Reuters) - Global shipments of potash are likely to rebound in 2013 to between 57 million and 58 million tonnes, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc Chief Executive Bill Doyle said on Thursday.

Demand should increase as the top two consuming countries, China and India, boost purchases of the crop nutrient, Doyle said at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in Boston, which was broadcast on the Internet.

"We see that as a big improvement over this year and we think 2014 is also going to be a strong volume year," Doyle said.

In September, Potash Corp pegged demand for 2013 at between 56 million and 60 million tonnes.

"(Potash Corp) has migrated slightly lower. (It) is a tad more optimistic than our expectation" of 56 million tonnes, said analyst Robert Winslow of National Bank Financial.

The new forecast would be a sharp increase over this year's estimated potash shipments of 50 million to 52 million tonnes. China and India have bought little potash from North American producers Potash Corp, Agrium Inc and Mosaic Co in the second half after those countries' supply contracts with Canpotex - the offshore marketing arm of the three companies - expired.

Doyle said it is possible that China will sign a new contract with Canpotex by the end of 2012.

"If you think about the Northern Hemisphere and the planting that will go on for the 2013 crop, there are going to be moves made between now and January in China, in India and other locations around the world to be ready. They are not going to plant without potash," he said.

China has stepped back from buying North American potash due to large domestic supplies, while a cut in Indian government subsidies and weakness in the rupee have made the fertilizer much more expensive for Indian farmers.

Potash Corp, the world's biggest fertilizer producer, said late last month that it is ramping up efforts to buy Israel Chemicals Ltd, the sixth-largest fertilizer producer in which Potash already owns a 14 percent stake.

Doyle said he would not comment directly on ICL, except to say that there is no certainty that talks with the company will lead to any transaction.

Asked whether Potash might sell its stake in ICL if a takeover does not materialize, Doyle urged a patient view of all of the company's equity investments, which also include stakes in Arab Potash Co PLC in Jordan, Sinofert Holdings Ltd in China and Chile's SQM.

"We want to gain a majority shareholding, but ... this is not an overnight equation. These are long-term prospects."

Officials within Israel's government, which holds a golden share in ICL, said last week they would meet with Potash Corp seeking more details on the company's bid.

Potash Corp shares traded 0.6 percent lower in New York and down 0.7 percent in Toronto in late trading on Thursday.

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