Canada’s Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX, NYSE:POT), the world’s largest producer of the fertilizer by capacity, is said to have hired Goldman Sachs and BofA Merrill Lynch to explore selling its stake in a Chilean lithium producer.
PotashCorp, which holds 32% of Chile’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM) and has three of eight board seats, is evaluating selling its part in the company to secure approval for its friendly merger with smaller rival Agrium (TSX, NYSE:AGU).
PotashCorp and Agrium said earlier this month their link-up would close several months later than previously anticipated as regulators in China and India put as a condition the divestment of certain minority interests the Canadian potash giant owns.
The potential sale of the interest in SQM comes only a few months after PotashCorp reached an agreement with Chilean businessman Julio Ponce, the lithium producer’s controlling shareholder, to change the way board decisions were made up to that point, local paper El Mercurio reported (in Spanish).
The agreement, announced on April 17 and signed by Potash Corp, Ponce-controlled Pampa Calichera, and Japan’s Kowa, stipulated that at least five of the eight board members had to agree to any future decision, and that the chairman no longer exercised a vote in the event of a deadlock. Previously, the chairman had the casting vote in the event of a tie.
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