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Potash Rejects $38.5B Hostile Takeover Bid

Canadian company said?its board voted unanimously to reject BHP's?$38.5 billion takeover offer as it doesn't reflect the strong growth it believes it is poised to enjoy.

SASKATOON (AP) -- Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. said Monday that its board voted unanimously to reject BHP Billiton's hostile $38.5 billion takeover offer as it doesn't reflect the strong growth the company believes it is poised to enjoy.

The Canadian company, the world's largest potash miner, said its share price had been depressed by the global recession but should rise as growth in agriculture boosts demand for potash, a key ingredient of fertilizer.

"BHP Billiton is opportunistically attempting to transfer the upside value in Potash Corp. to its own shareholders at the expense of Potash Corp. shareholders," it said in a statement.

The potash market is reaching an "inflection point" characterized by increased global demand for the mineral and rising prices that will boost the company's profits, it said.

BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company, launched the hostile $130 a share takeover last week after Potash directors rejected its behind the scenes efforts to get agreement for a deal from the board.

Some analysts say Potash may be trying to flush out a rival bidder, mentioning Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto and Chinese agribusiness SinoChem as potential suitors.

Rio Tinto's CEO Tom Albanese last week declined to comment.

Li Qiang, director of the general office of SinoChem, said Monday the company was following the deal but had not direct comments on it.

The "fertilizer business is a major business of our company, so we will surely pay great attention to opportunities that suit our characteristics in the global market."

Potash was up 1.8 percent, or $2.73, at $152.40 in pre-market trading after making the announcement. BHP was up 1.3 percent, or 90 cents, at $68.34.