World's largest potash producers dive as Russian Uralkali breaks up marketing cartel

The Toronto stock exchange opened considerably lower Tuesday morning as largest potash producers stocks tumbled because of Russian-based Uralkali (LON: URALL) decision of cancelling a European marketing group, which controls roughly 43% of global exports.

Canadian exporting and marketing firm (Canpotex) members were among the worst hitten. Saskatoon-based PotashCorp. (TSX:POT), the country’s largest potash producer, was down almost 21% in Toronto and the same in New York, at 10:30 ET.

US based Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) also took a major hit, dropping 23% to $40.59, while Agrium (TSX:AGU) saw its stock dive 8.7% to $83.49.

The blood bath was triggered by competitor Uralkali’s announcement that it is stopping its export sales through the Belarusian Potash Company to direct all export volumes through its own Uralkali Trading. The decision is likely to undercut competitors' prices for the fertilizer.

RELATED: Why the break-up of the potash cartel is not such a big deal

CEO Vladislav Baumgertner his company has supported a united sales network but that has been upset by a Belarusian presidential decree in December and sales by Belaruskali outside the marketing partnership.

"Unfortunately, we should state that our cooperation with our Belarusian partners within BPC framework has come to a deadlock," Baumgertner said in a statement.

"Uralkali’s announcement completely turns the global potash market upside down," analyst Elena Sakhnova of VTB Capital in Moscow told Bloomberg.

"If previously global potash producers were acting like an oligopoly, working with the rule that benefited higher potash prices … now the market will be fully competitive."

Uralkali has reportedly much lower production costs than PotashCorp.