Uralkali chief out of jail

During the last week of July, Uralkali (LON:URALL) CEO Vladislav Baumgertner blasted the global potash market wide open when it ended its joint marketing organization (read oligopoly) with Belaruskali.

Together the Russian and Belarus giants controlled some 40% of the global market for the soil nutrient.

The break-up sent stock prices in the sector tumbling and creating huge problems for Belarus which is heavily dependent on state-owned Belaruskali as a source of revenue for the struggling economy of the ex-Soviet republic.

When Baumgertner flew to Minsk at the end of August in an attempt to patch things up, he was duly arrested at the airport.

FT.com reports on Friday, Baumgertner has now been moved out of jail and put under house arrest.

A lawyer representing Baumgertner said that Baumgertner’s transfer had been “unexpected” and he is “under 24-hour surveillance at a rented apartment in the capital, but has been allowed to see his mother for the first time since he was jailed a month ago.”

While Baumgertner was languishing in jail, Uralkali inked a deal with Chinese investors to sell a 12.5% stake. China and India are the biggest importers of the 50 million – 60 million tonne annual potash trade.

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