July 14, 2009 / 4:31 PM / in 8 years

BPC says no potash deal with India, talks continue

MINSK, July 14 (Reuters) - Belarussian Potash Co (BPC) on Tuesday denied it had agreed to supply the soil nutrient to India at a below-market price of $460 per tonne and said the two sides were still in negotiations over price.

The price of potash -- a key crop nutrient -- has remained stubbornly high even as demand collapsed, as a small group of companies, which account for roughly 75 percent of global supply, cut production drastically to try to maintain prices.

Concern that the producers’ hard line was softening hit potash company stocks last week, after trade publications said India had agreed to buy potash from Russia’s Silvinit SILV.RTS at a below-market price of $460 per tonne. [ID:nN10522755]

U.S. Awasthi, managing director of the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Co-operative Limited (IFFCO), said in an interview on Monday three international companies had agreed to supply Indian buyers with potash at $460 a tonne. [ID:nN13161464]

IFFCO is among India’s largest fertiliser manufacturers and owns 34 percent of Indian Potash Ltd (IPL), the country’s largest potash importer. Awasthi named the three firms as BPC and smaller rivals Israel Chemicals (ICL) and Arab Potash Co.

“BPC remains in talks with IPL and will announce the outcome of the negotiations once a final agreement is reached,” the company said on Tuesday, denying any deal had been signed at a price of $460 a tonne.

A spokeswoman for Israel Chemicals has also said the company has not yet signed a contract with India. India imports about 5 million tonnes of potash a year, and IPL accounts for about 70 percent of these imports.

BPC, a 50-50 joint venture between Russia’s Uralkali (URKA.MM) and Belaruskali accounting for approximately a third of world potash exports, said on Friday the Silvinit deal had made it rethink its potash pricing strategy. [ID:nLB456207] (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky in Minsk and Euan Rocha in Toronto, writing by Robin Paxton in Moscow)

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