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Market Chatter: ICL Drops as Sale to Potash Corp. Is Seen More Unlikely

Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) fell the most in three weeks in Tel Aviv after the chances of being acquired by Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) appeared less likely of receiving the required Israeli regulatory approvals, Bloomberg reported over the weekend.

The shares of the company that extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make fertilizer slid 2.4%, the biggest drop since Oct. 9, to 47.35 shekels at the 4.30 p.m. close in Tel Aviv. The stock was the second-biggest loser on the benchmark TA-25 Index (TA-25), which retreated 0.3%.

Executives at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Potash held talks with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and met with government agencies about the "possibility of a merger," Israel Corp. (ILCO) said last week in a statement to Tel Aviv's stock exchange. Israel Corp. owns 52.3% of Israel Chemicals.

This comes after another Bloomberg story earlier in the weekend said Potash Corp. has been asked by Israeli authorities to clarify its intention to acquire parts or all of Israel Chemicals Ltd., one of the country's largest companies and a key supplier of potash to Europe.

Israel's Finance Ministry told the Canadian fertilizer giant that it would only make a recommendation on a potential merger once a detailed application is submitted, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

The ministry could not be reached for comment about the report, which came a day after statements from Tel Aviv that there was no deal under consideration.

Saskatoon-based Potash Corp. already holds a 14% stake in ICL, a $16.4-billion company and one of the few major producers of the crop nutrient that is not part of the world's two marketing groups. The other major supplier to Europe is K+S, which is also independent.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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