UPDATE 1-Potash Corp hikes dividend 25 pct as expansion winds down

Wed May 15, 2013 5:37pm EDT

NEW YORK May 15 (Reuters) - Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan said on Wednesday it will hike its dividend by 25 percent, as it winds down a 10-year mine expansion program that will free up cash.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Potash, which has the largest capacity in the world to produce the crop nutrient potash, said it will raise its quarterly cash dividend to 35 cents per share from 28 cents, payable Aug. 2, 2013.

Potash Corp expects to wrap up a 10-year, $8-billion expansion of its Canadian potash mines in the next year.

"The confidence we have in our ability to generate strong cash flow in the years ahead has enabled us to strengthen our dividend for the fifth time since 2011," said Potash Corp Chief Executive Bill Doyle in a statement.

Doyle said last month that he is interested in a majority stake in Chilean potash producer SQM, of which Potash already owns 32 percent of shares.

Fertilizer rivals Mosaic Co and Agrium Inc are also returning more cash to shareholders. Mosaic said on Monday that it planned to use surplus cash to buy back shares, while Agrium announced last week it intends to buy back up to 5 percent of its stock.

Potash Corp shares closed on Wednesday up 0.7 percent to $43.38 and C$44.12 in New York and Toronto respectively.

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