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Uralkali stops potash export through JV with Belarus

July 30, 2013, 11:48 UTC+3
Uralkali Trading will remain the company’s only export channel
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Photo ITAR-TASS/Uralkali OJSC Press Service

Photo ITAR-TASS/Uralkali OJSC Press Service

MOSCOW, July 30 (Itar-Tass) - Russia’s Uralkali, one of the world’s largest potash producers, has announced it stops fertilizer exports through Belarusian Potash Company, a joint venture between producers Uralkali and Belaruskali.

Uralkali Trading will remain the company’s only export channel.

“We have to state regrettably that our cooperation with Belarussian partners within the framework of Belarusian Potash Company reached a deadlock,” he said. “Uralkali has always insisted that export sales of both producers should be carried out through a single distribution network,” Uralkali Directror-General Vladislav Baumgertner said.

This step followed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s decree of December 22, 2012, cancelling Belarusian Potash Company’s monopoly right to export Belarusian potash. Soon after Belarus’s potash producer Belaruskali started potash shipments beyond Belarusian Potash Company.

Belarusian Potash Company was one of the biggest suppliers of Belaruskali and Uralkali produce to foreign markets. Its shareholders are Belaruskali with a 45% stake, Belarusian Railways with a 5% stake and Uralkali with a 50% stake.

Uralkali plans to boost the production and sales of potash chloride to 10.5 million tons in 2013, to 13 million tons in 2014 and 14 million tons in 2015 and increase exports, mainly to China, India and Brazil.

“Uralkali plans to change it strategy under the current conditions. We believe that the most adequate strategy will be maximization of the output,” Baumgertner said.

He said, as other players on the potash market will also boost production volumes and exports, the prices for potash chloride will slump from the current $400 per ton to lower than $300 per ton in the second half of 2013.

“It is difficult for me to say what will happen with prices in the future,” he said. “This will depend on the global demand growth as under a new level of prices for potash chloride a demand starts growing.”

At the same time Uralkali has no plans to reconsider its investment program, as it can boost its production at the existing capacities, while Uralkali will compensate for declining prices with the growth of its output and sales, although some development projects can be postponed.

Respectively, the company’s dividend policy envisaging payment of dividends of at least 50% of net profit will not be changed, he said.

At the same time Uralkali suspended its share buyback program worth $1.6 billion.

“We proposed that in the near future the market of our shares and shares of other potash producers will be rather volatile… we want to see how potash assets will be listed until we take further decisions on the buyback program,” Baumgertner said.

Under the buyback program announced on November 13, 2012, Uralkali paid up own shares worth around $1.25 billion.

Uralkali accounts for around 20% of global potash fertilizer market. Its main shareholders are structures of businessmen Suleiman Kerimov with a 17.2% stake, of Anatoly Skurov with 4.8%, Filaret Galchev with a 7% stake. Uralkali’s shares are traded at Moscow Exchange MICEX-RTS and LSE. 58.5% of Uralkali’s shares are in free floating.

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