* Uralkali sees 2014 global demand at 56-58 mln T
* Says no major difficulties due to sanctions
(Adds details, quotes, context)
MOSCOW Aug 28 Russia's Uralkali, the
world's largest potash producer, said on Thursday its first-half
net profit fell 7 percent year-on-year due to lower prices for
the crop nutrient.
Uralkali quit a powerful trading alliance with Belarus in
July last year to focus on maximising sales volumes, triggering
a slump in global potash prices.
"In the first half of 2014, the potash market demonstrated
signs of recovery both in terms of volumes and price," Dmitry
Osipov, Uralkali chief executive, said in a statement.
"Customers sought to replenish depleted stocks."
Uralkali said its first-half net profit fell to $370
million, beating analysts' average estimate of $330 million.
Revenue rose 7 percent to $1.7 billion.
Global potash demand in 2014 may exceed the 2011 level,
which would set a new record, Uralkali added.
In its presentation of results, it said that global demand
was expected at 56-58 million tonnes in 2014 compared with 54
million tonnes in 2013. In 2015 it expects the demand to rise
further - to 58-60 million tonnes.
During the first half of 2014, Uralkali signed a five-year
unsecured club facility for $450 million with international
banks, a rare event for Russia, which has been hit with
sanctions by the West following its annexation of the Crimea
region and its support of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine.
"The political and economic turmoil witnessed in the region,
including the developments in Ukraine, have had, and may
continue to have, a negative impact on the Russian economy,
including weakening of the Russian Rouble and making it harder
to raise international finance," Uralkali said.
Uralkali is not currently experiencing any significant
difficulties because of the sanctions, but economic instability,
the threat of further sanctions and uncertainty in financial
markets may affect suppliers and customers, it added.
The European Union and United States have imposed sanctions
on some Russian individuals, companies and banks, but Uralkali
has escaped unscathed.
Its net debt was $3.9 billion at the end of June, with
earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA) at $767 million.
Shares in Uralkali were down 2 percent in afternoon trade,
in line with a decline in other Russian stocks, on fears
of escalating tensions in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt and Natalia Shurmina; Editing by
Katya Golubkova and Mark Potter)