BHP starts wheels turning in Potash bid

BHP Billiton is focussing on getting regulatory approval for its £25bn hostile bid for Potash Corp before trying in earnest to win over the Canadian company's shareholders, a source said.

BHP, the world's largest miner, is betting the absence of any rival offers will sway Potash Corp investors to support its bid, said the source.

"At that point – if there has been no higher bid, and they don't think there will be – if they have regulatory approvals and they don't manage to get another bid up, his (Potash chief Bill Doyle) leverage is reduced," said the source.

"It is early days. This is a bit of a slow motion race."

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BHP aims to vault to the top of a rebounding fertiliser industry, which suffered during the global economic crisis, through the world's largest takeover offer this year.

The deal would give it 20 per cent of the global market for potash, critical for boosting crop yields as global populations grow and the amount of arable land available shrinks.

BHP was preparing to file details of its $40bn loan to finance the deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a first step in clearing regulatory hurdles for its bid.

BHP declined to comment. After a big splash on Wednesday when it announced it was taking its bid direct to shareholders, the BHP camp has gone quiet.

BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers was expected to spearhead efforts to charm Potash investors into accepting the bid. It was unclear yesterday whether that process had started.

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