BHP Billiton said on Tuesday the Canadian Competition Bureau had issued overnight a Supplementary Information Request in respect of its offer for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.
By law, BHP Billiton’s offer cannot be completed until 30 days after the company complies with the Bureau’s request, BHP Billiton said in a statement on Tuesday.
As a result, BHP Billiton said it would extend its $US130 a share offer for Potash Corp until just prior to midnight on November 18, 2010.
“BHP Billiton is confident that the Offer will receive all requisite regulatory approvals in due course,” the company said in the statement.
Also overnight, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, said the bid for Potash Corp would be examined by Canadian regulators to ensure that it met the test of being of net benefit to Canada.
Mr Harper said on the first day of a new Parliament session in Ottawa that he’d spoken to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who is wary of both a Chinese and BHP takeover of Potash.
The federal government can block a foreign takeover if it’s not a “net benefit” to Canada.
“This government’s position has not been to give a blank check to foreign takeovers,” Harper said in Parliament.
“There is a law in place. I have spoken about the particular case with the premier of Saskatchewan and obviously we will examine his concerns as we do the review that is required under the foreign investment review act.”
The Saskatchewan government is worried that BHP Billiton would operate at full capacity and lower potash prices, leading to less revenue for the province.
But Harper’s Conservative government is a staunch supporter of free trade and has allowed recent Chinese investment in Canada’s oil sands sector.
BHP Billiton launched a hostile $US130-per-share takeover bid last month after Potash directors rejected its offer.
Chinese state-owned companies are also interested in making a rival bid.
Potash may be a useful commodity as China’s wealth increases and the nation’s massive population seeks more food.