Potash Buyout Heats Up (POT, BHP)

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The fight over winning a Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) is heating up.  Whether BHP Billiton plc (NYSE: BHP) can ultimately win backing of the merger at its current price from holders is another matter.  Late yesterday came a decision of Invest Canada, a federal agency, approval of the merger in Canada.  The Saskatchewan province is against the merger.

The agency’s approval is likely to have some conditions that may even cloud the deal. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to rule on the merger by Wednesday.

Where the deal remains interesting is that BHP has stuck with the $130 offer and the belief is that loses interest much higher than that.  BHP said it would not raise the offer prior to regulatory approval.  Whether Ontario Teachers wants to get in has yet to remain, and ditto for a Chinese buyer.

Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement is also reportedly in the final stages of consideration over the hostile takeover of Potash Corp. by BHP Billiton.

Potash Corp. has not formally disclosed what its ‘strategic alternatives’ are, and there is still a chance that it will take on a strategic investor or even break itself up to unlock value.  A filing last week noted roughly 15 potential investors and/or acquirers.

Another factoid worth note came from David Faber last week on CNBC where Faber actually noted that the fundamentals of the globe have improved and the lack of buying creating pent up demand may actually have Potash Corp. shares higher if the bid was not present.

Analysts have chimed in of late.  Credit Suisse raised its target to $160 from $150; BMO raised it to Outperform with a $175 target; Citigroup maintained a Buy and raised its target to $176.

Decisions await.  Potash Corp. shares closed at $146.63 yesterday, and shares are indicated up above $148.00 so far this morning.

JON C. OGG