Friday, November 22, 2013

Potash cartel patching up differences

The Russia-Belarus potash cartel may soon be back in business as both made steps to patch up differences this week.

Belarus released Uralkali’s chief executive officer, Vladislav Baumgertner, to Russian officials. Belarus arrested him on charges that he used the cartel, which he operated, to the advantage of Uralkali and short-changed Belarus.

The Russians have agreed to investigate Baumgertner when he returns.

For its part, the Russians’ investor, Suleiman Kerimov, says he has made a deal to sell his 21.75 stake in Uralkali.

When the cartel split apart, both began discounting potash prices and that had a global impact, including those with huge mines in Saskatchewan.

The three main miners in Saskatchewan – Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, Mosaic and Agrium – run their own export cartel, called Canpotex.

It has government approval because the Saskatchewan government then realizes higher revenues from royalties.

The Uralkali-Belarus cartel controlled about 40 per cent of the global market and Canpotex most of the rest of the $20-billion-a-year market.