Anti-trust lawsuit revived against seven potash producers

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ordered that an anti-trust lawsuit be brought back to the courts, and a lower court ruling that settled the issue in favour of the potash companies be set aside.

A class-action complaint was brought against the seven potash producers, accusing them of price fixing. The defendants are Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, Agrium Inc. (AGU), Mosaic Co. (MOS) and some Russian and Belorussian companies.

Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium Inc., No. 10-1712 will be reheard. The previous judgement by the Seventh Circuit panel made in September last year is to be vacated.

The seven companies were accused of anti-competitive actions outside the US, which still drove up prices in the American markets.

"The world market for potash is highly concentrated and U.S. customers account for a high percentage of sales," wrote the appeals court in its decision.

"This is not a 'House-that-Jack-Built situation in which action in a foreign country filters through many layers and finally causes a few ripples' in the U.S. Foreign sellers allegedly created a cartel, took steps outside the U.S. to drive the price up of a product that is wanted in the U.S., and, after succeeding, sold that product to U.S. customers."

The companies have not commented on the legal reversal.