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Mosaic (MOS), Potash Corp. (POT), Agrium (AGU) Settle Potash Pricing Lawsuits

 January 30, 2013 02:48 PM

(By Balaseshan) Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS), Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) and Agrium Inc. (NYSE: AGU) have agreed to pay a combined $97.5 million to settle potash antitrust litigation that had alleged their pricing of the fertilizer ingredient violated U.S. antitrust laws.

The litigation, which were filed by direct and indirect purchasers of potash in the United States, has been pending in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois since 2008.

[Related -Why We Like International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), The Coca-Cola Company (KO) And Mosaic Co (MOS)]

Mosaic and Potash Corp. are paying $43.75 million each to settle all claims, while Agrium is paying $10 million. All the three companies denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement and will be released from any liability in connection with plaintiffs' claims.

"These allegations are completely without merit and we deny all of the claims asserted in the lawsuit," said Bill Doyle, President and CEO for Potash Corp.

Potash Corp. expressly denied any wrong-doing but decided to settle after weighing the multi-year financial cost and resources that would be required to defend these meritless allegations.

[Related -Potash Corp./Saskatchewan (USA) (POT): Potash Options Look For Shares To Rebound]

Mosaic chose to settle these claims to avoid the significant costs, burden, and distraction of protracted litigation. Agrium said this settlement avoids legal costs and the distractions associated with protracted litigation.

Agrium said it and the other defendants denied all allegations of wrongdoing, liability.

The litigation alleged that the major suppliers of potash, who control about 70% of the market, conspired to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the price of potash sold in the United States. Potash is a compound of potassium, which with nitrogen and phosphorous is essential for plant life.

POT is trading up 0.72% at $43.18 on Wednesday, while MOS trades down 0.90% at $61.45. AGU trades up 0.34% at $113.53.

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