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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Russian national potash champion has found Canadian resource nationalism too hot a nutrient to handle.

A fortnight ago, Phosagro, Russia’s principal phosphates producer, declared that it was forming a Russian consortium to take over Canada’s leading fertilizer producer, Potash Corporation. It was also claimed in the press announcements that Phosagro was selected as the vehicle for the takeover because the new Russian potash combination, Uralkali and Silvinit, is too close to being a country monopoly to be allowed by European and North American anti-trust regulators to absorb their global competitor.

At the time of its declaration, Phosagro also set a deadline of November 15, when it promised it would provide new details of the terms of its bid, and the financing sources it had lined up to make it possible. During this period, Vladimir Litvinenko, the St. Petersburg academician and Phosagro board chairman, who had publicly unveiled the takeover proposal, refused to answer questions.

When reminded that the deadline has now passed, Timur Belov, Phosagro’s spokesman, said: “Considering the ruling issued on November 3 by the Industry Minister of Canada Tony Clement, and the subsequent statement by the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper of the intention to clarify the position of the government of Canada regarding the restrictions on the acquisition of assets by foreign investors in Canada, OAO PhosAgro intends to hold consultations with all stakeholders, including the government of Canada regarding the advisability of forming an offer to purchase Potash Corp (Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc.), alternative to the cancelled one by BHP Billiton.”

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