| TEL AVIV
TEL AVIV Nov 6 Israeli officials plan to meet
executives of Canada's Potash Corp in the next week
before deciding on whether to allow the fertiliser producer's
proposed $13.5 billion takeover of Israel Chemicals (ICL)
to move forward.
Potash, the world's No. 1 fertiliser producer, wants to
acquire ICL, the world's sixth-largest fertiliser producer, so
it can shore up its leverage with China and India, which are
expected to drive much of the industry's growth.
Israel's government holds a so-called golden share in ICL so
any deal would need approval from the Finance Ministry's
Government Companies Authority, the prime minister and the
Antitrust Authority, among others, for the Canadian company to
increase its 13.84 percent stake in ICL.
Doron Cohen, the finance ministry's director-general, said
on Tuesday that officials from the Government Companies
Authority would meet Potash executives after the Israeli
government requested Potash provide more details of its bid.
"The next step is for Potash to provide an explanation and
we will decide whether we will continue with the process or
not," Cohen told Reuters on the sidelines of a Finance Ministry
He said the ministry had asked Potash for a broader
explanation of its plans and how it would secure Israel's
interests, since ICL produces potash from harvesting the Dead
Israel is headed for a general election in January so a
deal, or even advanced discussions, on the takeover of such a
key resources company is seen as unlikely in the near term.
Saskatchewan-based Potash said last week it has been in
talks with Israeli officials on acquiring ICL.
Chief executive Bill Doyle met Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu last week to push for a deal.
Conglomerate Israel Corp owns 52.3 percent of ICL
and about 34 percent is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange at
a market value of some $15 billion.
Potash sought last year to raise its 13.84 percent stake in
ICL to 25 percent but pulled its request when regulators took
too long to respond. Cohen said Potash now seeks 100 percent of