China’s Sinochem Group is "evaluating" a possible offer for Canada’s fertilizer manufacturer Potash Corporation (POT.NYSE, POT.TSX), AFP reported, citing state media. Potash had been the focus of a hostile US$40 billion takeover bid earlier this month by Australian mining firm BHP Billiton (BHP.NYSE, BLT.LSE, BHP.ASX). Potash rejected BHP’s advances earlier this week, but said it would explore other offers. Many analysts argue that the state-owned conglomerate Sinochem, China’s fourth-largest oil company, could be used to thwart an attempted BHP takeover of Potash, which would consolidate the supply of potash and potentially raise consumer prices. China’s state-owned firms used a similar tactic to prevent BHP from acquiring Rio Tinto (RTP.NYSE, RIO.LSE, RIO.ASX) last year. Chinese government officials have thus far declined to comment on the matter.
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