ISS gives Potash Corp-Agrium merger its blessing

Investor advisory company Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has told shareholders of Canada’s Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT) (NYSE: POT), the world’s largest producer of the fertilizer by capacity, and smaller rival Agrium (TSX:AGU) (NYSE: AGU), to support a merger of the companies.

The note, sent to ISS clients on Friday and shared with the media on Monday, says the all-share business combination would create a firm with significant leverage, it says.

Deal would create the world’s largest crop-nutrient supplier, worth about $36 billion.

The deal, the biggest Canadian merger since CNOOC Ltd. bought Nexen Energy ULC in 2013, will give Potash Corp. shareholders 52% of the new company, which has yet to be named, while Agrium investors will hold the rest.

The combination would create the world’s largest crop-nutrient supplier worth about $36 billion, including debt. Such firm will have nearly 20,000 employees and it is expected to generate up to $500 million of annual operating synergies, according to a new website created by Potash Corp and Agrium, which first revealed they were in preliminary discussions in August.

Last year, PotashCorp’s $8.8bn offer to buy German producer K+S, was rebuffed as the two failed to reach an agreement on price. The failed deal would have allowed PotashCorp to fuse with another of the top-five producers, giving the Canadian group control of about one-quarter of global supply.