TORONTO Canada's Competition Bureau has decided not to challenge BHP Billiton's $39 billion hostile bid to acquire Potash Corp, BHP said on Friday.
But this tacit clearance would be moot unless the Anglo-Australian miner were able to win a separate approval from the Canadian government.
Earlier this week, Canada's Industry Minister Tony Clement said the government had decided to block the bid for the world's largest fertilizer maker, as a takeover did not offer a "net benefit" to Canada -- a precondition under Canadian law.
The Competition Bureau review is an entirely separate process, which examines whether a takeover runs afoul of Canadian antitrust laws. As BHP has no potash operations in production anywhere in the world, this review was not expected to pose a big hurdle to the world's top miner.
BHP has said its $130-a-share tender offer is still going forward and it is continuing to work on trying to persuade the Canadian government to approve this transaction.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)