Potash CEO Says Won’t Follow Uralkali Strategy on Prices

Jul 08, 2014 5:42 pm ET

(Updates share price in last paragraph.)

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- The new CEO of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer producer by market value, said the company has no plans to follow a competitor’s strategy of cutting prices for its namesake to try to add to market share.

“Our principle of responding to the market with the placing of product has been something that has proved to be successful and that’s what we’ll continue doing,” Chief Executive Officer Jochen Tilk, 50, said today in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “What happens on the periphery is something that we need to be mindful of, observant, but we don’t take that and constantly adjust our strategy.”

The $20 billion global potash market was thrown into turmoil at the end of July last year after Russia’s OAO Uralkali, the largest producer of the crop nutrient, quit a marketing joint venture with Belarus that controlled about 40 percent of supplies. Uralkali vowed to prioritize sales volumes over prices, a move that sent shares of producers and the price of the commodity tumbling.

Tilk, the former CEO of Inmet Mining Corp., started as the chief of Potash Corp. on July 1, replacing Bill Doyle, who was CEO for 15 years. Tilk, a graduate of the University of Aachen in Germany, has spent three decades in the mining industry. He takes the helm just as Potash Corp. nears the end of an expansion drive that has saddled it with more production capacity than the market needs.

Potash is a form of potassium used by farmers to strengthen plant roots and boost resistance to drought. Potash Corp. also produces crop nutrients made from phosphates and nitrogen. The company exports potash via Canpotex Ltd., a sales joint venture with Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Mosaic Co. of the U.S.

Potash Corp. fell 0.8 percent to C$39.80 at the close in Toronto. The shares have risen 14 percent this year.