Don Bilson inadvertently waded into a minor Canadian political maelstrom over foreign investment when he dashed off a 250-word note on Jan. 19 suggesting Australia’s BHP Group Ltd. may want to buy Saskatoon-based Nutrien Ltd.
“I made an offhand remark,” the head of event-driven research at Gordon Haskett Research Advisors in New York told the Financial Post, “and, for some reason, the Canadian press thought I put a national jewel in play.”
On the surface, BHP, the world’s largest miner with a US$164-billion market cap, could likely raise funds and swallow Nutrien, which is the largest fertilizer company at a value of $49 billion.
But analysts more versed in Nutrien than Bilson, who doesn’t cover the company, have been puzzling over a deeper question: is BHP actually ready to make the plunge into agriculture and potash fertilizer? After all, that’s very different from the iron ore, copper and other commodities in its current portfolio.