February 6, 2018 / 4:37 PM / 15 days ago

Bidding 'robust' for Nutrien stakes in SQM, Arab Potash Co - executive

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer and farm supply dealer Nutrien Ltd is aggressively working to sell its stakes in lithium producer SQM and Arab Potash Co Plc, but the timing of closing those sales this year is unclear, its chief financial officer said on Tuesday.

Nutrien is selling minority stakes in those companies as part of pledges to regulators who approved the merger of Agrium and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan this year.

“We have a robust bidding process in both of those two entities and it’s speculative to determine when the sales of those equity interests will take effect,” CFO Wayne Brownlee said on a conference call with analysts.

Regulatory hurdles may slow completion of the sales, he added.

Nutrien owns 32 percent of Chile’s SQM, and about 28 percent of Arab Potash. The sales are likely to generate net proceeds of $3.8 billion, according to the Bank of Montreal.

Nutrien may sell Arab Potash in the second quarter, Brownlee said. He did not give a timeline for the SQM sale.

Nutrien shares tumbled 4.5 percent to C$57.74 in Toronto as the company’s first full-year outlook disappointed investors.

The company, which operates six Canadian potash mines, wants to shift production to its lowest-cost facilities, said Raef Sully, president of Nutrien’s potash business.

All options are on the table, including closing higher-cost mines, and may be reviewed in the second half of the year, Sully said. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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