* Uralkali shareholder says no talks underway
* Belarus First Deputy PM also denies sale talks
* Sources earlier said deal was close
(Adds comments from Belarussian officials)
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 17 Uralkali
, which recently merged with Silvinit to
become Russia's largest potash miner, is not planning to buy
Belaruskali, a major Uralkali shareholder said on Friday.
"Talks are not ongoing, and in general I am not sure that a
deal is possible," the shareholder said on condition of
anonymity at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.
Uralkali last week said it was "considering entering into a
transaction with Belaruskali" but that no binding agreements had
The two companies are already joint venture partners in the
Belarusian Potash Company (BPC) export vehicle, and Uralkali
last week said that it may advance up to $1 billion to
Belaruskali to secure future purchase volumes.
A merger of the two companies would create the world's
largest potash producer, with annual capacity of 21.1 million
tonnes, leap-frogging Canada's Potash Corp with 12
The shareholder spoke on condition of anonymity because he
"did not want to damage relations" with Uralkali's Belarussian
Earlier this month, Belarus agreed to sell off $7.5 billion
in state assets within the next three years as part of a deal to
obtain $3 billion from a Russia-led bailout fund.
The agreement did not require the privatisation of any
specific firms, though analysts say potash miner Belaruskali is
the most interesting asset.
Minsk has sent contradictory signals about its willingness
to sell the firm.
President Alexander Lukashenko said earlier this month that
Belarus will sell Belaruskali for $30 billion, while also
denying that any sale talks have taken place.
In St. Petersburg on Friday, First Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Semashko said there were no concrete plans to sell the
"We have never discussed this deal with
Uralkali...Belaruskali is not for sale," Semashko said according
to Russian news agencies.
Countries are anxious to safeguard supplies of the
fertiliser ingredient as the world battles food shortages and
grows biofuels for energy supplies.
Potash prices are expected to rise to $600 a tonne by 2012
from a spot price of $510-540 now, according to analysts at
(Reporting by Polina Devitt, writing by Alfred Kueppers;
Editing By David Cowell)