China Eyes Belaruskali Privatization

China is considering bidding in the privatization tender for Belarusian potash producer Belarusalkali, China’s ambassador to Belarus Hun Jiangbei said on Friday.

“Currently, we are just looking into this at a very, very preliminary stage – I would say even just probing the possibility of China’s participation in the privatization of Belarusalkali,” he said.

Belarus is one of China’s main potash suppliers, he said, but its market share has fallen recently in the face of deliveries from Russia, Canada and southeast Asia.

“We would like to increase Belarusian imports from Belarus,” Hun said. “Talks are underway between [leading fertilizer producer] Uralkali of Russia and Belarusalkali on the creation of a Soyuzkalia. We will work with the united company in the future to maintain our contracts for potash fertilizer.”

Belarus held talks with China over the possible sale of Belaruskali at the start of 2011, but China showed little interest in the sale at that time due the company’s price.

Last year, Uralkali wanted to buy Belaruskali for $14 billion, but the Belarusian government set the price at $30 billion and the deal failed to materialize.

Potash is primarily used as a component of fertilizer.

Earlier this week, Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, said it had agreed a $1 billion refinancing deal with Belaruskali and was considering investing in new sources of potash in the country.


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