China grabs a 12.5% stake in potash leader Uralkali

China's sovereign wealth fund (CIC) acquired Tuesday a 12.5% stake in beleaguered Russian potash miner Uralkali (LON:URALL), the world's No.1 producer of the fertilizer, adding the investment to a growing list of recent commodity-related acquisitions.

The move is a major one for China, the world's top potash consumer, as the country is securing this way a steady supply in a market shaken by the fresh breakup of the Russia-Belarus oligopoly, which controlled more than 40% of world exports.

CIC is no stranger to Russia. Last year it secured a 5% in Polyus Gold and this February helped with the flotation of Moscow stock exchange. But today’s deal has special connotations, as it comes amid rumours of mogul Suleiman Kerimov wanting to sell his 20% stake in Uralkali over the dispute between Russia and Belarus.

Uralkali’s CEO, Vladislav Baumgertner, has been jailed in Belarus since Aug. 26, when he was arrested on charges of abuse of power, following the firm’s departure from the potash cartel.

With today's exchange of bondsit use to hold for a stake in Uralkali, the CIC has become the second largest shareholder in the world's biggest potash producer.

Image: Uralkali processing plant/Wikimedia Commons.