Wall pledges to look at ‘every option’ to enforce 2011 PotashCorp pledge

Wall pledges to look at ‘every option’ to enforce 2011 PotashCorp pledge

ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

September 6, 2017 | Last Updated: September 6, 2017 6:12 PM CST

wall

Premier Brad Wall says his government won’t rule out using legislation or the province’s potash royalty structure to maximize the number of corporate headquarters jobs in Saskatchewan once the US$26 billion merger of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. closes later this year.

Wall, who last week spoke out about former PotashCorp CEO Bill Doyle’s 2011 pledge to maintain a “strong and vital corporate headquarters” in the province, told reporters on Wednesday that potash mining companies currently receive incentives based on head office jobs in Saskatchewan.

“If we were able to provide that incentive we could also move the other way,” the premier said, adding that while Chuck Magro’s decision to maintain his primary residence in Calgary after taking over as CEO of the post-merger firm Nutrien Ltd. is “not optimal,” he is more concerned about maximizing the number of jobs in the province.

Echoing previous comments, PotashCorp spokesman Bill Cooper said in an email that the merger will create benefits for all of the combined companies’ shareholders and that PotashCorp’s “operations and workforce in Saskatchewan will remain core to the combined company.”

The merger, which remains under regulatory review, was announced in September 2016. It is expected to create a company with six of the province’s 10 potash mines, other assets around the world and about 20,000 employees. The company has said its “registered head office” will be in Saskatoon with corporate offices in Saskatoon and Calgary, where Agrium is based.

Alberta NDP economic development minister Deron Bilous said in a statement that Alberta has the lowest overall taxes in the country and Calgary is “one of Canada’s best cities for international operations.” Agrium has kept his government briefed on the merger, and it understands it will be “business as usual” for that company’s 2,000 workers in the province, Bilous added.

Agrium vice-president of investor relations Richard Downey declined to put numbers on the current complement of employees in PotashCorp’s Saskatoon headquarters or the Agrium head office in Calgary. He said both cities will have “significant corporate offices, post-merger,” following some reductions, with senior managers at both locations.

Under Saskatchewan legislation, PotashCorp — which was created in the 1970s as a Crown corporation — must have its head office in the province. Doyle made his pledge to the province in 2011, after the federal government, which was under pressure from Wall, blocked BHP Billiton’s attempted $40 billion hostile takeover.

“The spirit and the letter of the pledge that PotashCorp made to the province after the merger failed, after we intervened on the merger, we’re going to look to uphold (it) and we’re going to look at every option to do that,” Wall said.

About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on September 7, 2017, in economic impact, political, potash. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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