Prosperity Saskatchewan

Agrium sells U.S. plants to ease Potash merger concerns

Agrium Corporate Office in Calgary, Alta.

Canadian fertilizer producer and farm supplier Agrium Inc said on Tuesday it will sell its Idaho phosphate production facility for $100-million to fertilizer company Itafos, to address concerns of U.S. regulators about its merger with Potash Corp of Saskatchewan.

Separately, Agrium will sell its North Bend, Ohio, nitric acid plant to a subsidiary of Trammo Inc for an undisclosed price.

The combination of Agrium and Potash Corp is expected to close by year-end, and requires U.S. approval. Agrium did not specify what concerns U.S. regulators have, but Potash is already one of the biggest U.S. phosphate producers.

Earlier on Tuesday, China’s commerce ministry said it has approved the merger on the condition that Potash divest certain stakes in other companies.

Agrium’s U.S. listed shares fell 1.7 per cent to $106.01.

Under the deal, Itafos gets Agrium’s Conda, Idaho, phosphate production plant and adjacent mineral rights. The deal includes an agreement for Agrium to supply ammonia to the Conda facility and buy the monoammonium phosphate it produces.

Agrium said it will take a $178-million impairment charge on the Conda sale and retain its historic environmental obligations.

Agrium’s sales to both Itafos and Trammo are subject to approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the company said.

The merger combines Potash Corp’s fertilizer production capacity, the world’s largest, with Agrium’s network of farm supply stores, the biggest in the United States.