Potash posts stellar results

Potash Corp, the Canadian miner, yesterday delivered a strong set of numbers to bolster its defence against the $39bn hostile takeover tabled by BHP Billiton.

Third-quarter profits soared 62 per cent at the group, which is the world's largest supplier of potash, a mineral used to fertilise crops. It said the rising grain prices had prompted huge demand for fertiliser.

Chief executive Bill Doyle hailed the results as a "meaningful step" forward for the Saskatchewan-based company, as it reported the second best third-quarter performance in its history.

"Rapidly rising prices for a number of key crop commodities pushed our industry past the inflection point, as demonstrated by stronger demand and the beginning of pricing momentum for all nutrients in this quarter," he said. He added that the outlook for the company was rosy.

Potash was reticent over the bid from BHP. It rejected its rival's $39bn approach out of hand in August as too low, and a month later launched a lawsuit against it.

Canada's government is also exploring whether to step in and block a potential deal, as foreign takeovers must demonstrate a net benefit to the country.

The Saskatchewan premier said yesterday that he backed a potential move from the Government to block the bid.