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Canadian fertilizer corp. determined to buy Israeli chemical company

JTA

February 28, 2013 | 6:30 am

A Canadian fertilizer company is determined to buy a major Israeli chemical company despite opposition among lawmakers and employees of the Israeli company.

The Potash Corp of Saskatchewan is seeking to acquire a controlling stake in ICL, Israel Chemicals Ltd., Israel's second-largest corporation by market size.

Over twenty Israeli lawmakers met in Jerusalem Wednesday to discuss the issue, with some voicing strong opposition to the deal, according to Bloomberg.

"The sale of ICL to a foreign company would be abandoning residents of the Negev region and a slap in the face of every citizen of Israel," Yesh Atid lawmaker Meir Cohen was quoted as saying.

Potash Corp is the largest producer of the potash crop nutrient and currently owns a 14 percent stake in ICL, which mines chemicals from the Dead Sea and is the world's sixth-largest producer of potash.

On Tuesday, Potash Corp Chief Financial Officer Wayne Brownlee said, "The opposition you're seeing now is fear of the unknown." Brownlee, speaking at a conference in Florida, said Potash Corp would not cut production or layoff ICL employees.

But that hasn’t placated Israel Chemicals employees, who plan to stage protests in coming weeks to try and block the deal, according to Reuters.

Before discussions begin between the companies, Potash Corp must secure approval from the Israeli government and talks are currently suspended due to "political events," Brownlee said Tuesday. Israel is currently in the process of forming a new government.

The removal of water from the Dead Water to mine lucrative chemical products like potash has been blamed for the shrinking of the popular natural attraction. The flow of water into the sea was 100 million cubic meters in 2008, down from 1.4 billion cubic meters in 1948 when Israel was founded.

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