US agrochem giant is put on market

23 October 1998

US agrochem giant is put on market

TERRA industries, the US agro-chemical giant which bought the ICI fertiliser business in the UK last November, is itself up for sale.

Luxembourg-based parent company Minorco is to sell its 56% stake in the company ahead of a merger with Anglo-American Corporation to create one of the worlds largest mining companies.

The stake is thought to be worth about $562 (£334m), and Minorco says it wishes to sell by April. Mark Rosenbury, managing director of Terra UK, is not aware of a buyer as yet.

"Minorco have been very explicit. They want to dispose of all their US-based businesses before the Anglo-American deal is done.

"I have told all our staff and customers that as far as I can see, the sale will have no effect on us. We are an integral part of the Terra business, but the marketing we do is fairly standalone. I have told everyone it will be business as usual."

Consultant Mike Stickland agrees. "I dont believe the sale will make the slightest bit of difference in our market."

He believes shares are likely to be sold piecemeal, rather than to one buyer. "It is possible that Hydro, or the Potash Company of Saskatchewan, could be interested. But they would almost certainly run into monopoly problems. And I cant see anyone outside the industry wanting to get into it at the moment."

&#8226 Fertiliser manufacturers face serious trouble by continuing to virtually give their products away, according to Tony Robinson, president of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association.

Although farmers do not want to spend more on inputs, Mr Robinson said realistic pricing would satisfy the needs of legislators and environmentalists by encouraging further investment in best fertiliser practice, which in turn would help to offset threats of a fertiliser tax.

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