FTC OKs final order in fertilizer, chemical companies merger

By Marian Johns | Feb 14, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has voted to 2-0 to approve a final order that settles charges against a merger of Canadian fertilizer and chemical companies Potash Corporation, Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc, on the basis the merger would harm competition in two markets. 

In the FGTC's final order, the commission states the merger would harm the North American market for superphosphoric (SPA), which is a concentrated form of phosphoric acid that contains the crop nutrient phosphate. The other market harmed, according to the FTC complaint, is the "65-67 percent concentration nitric acid."

According to the FTC complaint, PotashCorp and Agrium are two of only three firms in North American that manufacture SPA, and is marketed to produce ammonium polyphosphate and then sold to farmers. The FTC says the merger would eliminate "head-to-head competition" between PotashCrop and Agrium for the sales of SPA, giving them incentive to raise prices and coordinate between competitors in the market. 

Also, according to the FTC complaint, PotashCorp and Agrium, who each have plants in Ohio that manufacture the product 65-67 percent concentration nitric acid, are the two primary suppliers of the product in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey. The merger, the FTC states, would eliminate competition for sales of the product in the relevant geography. 

The companies agreed to divest its two production facilities in the U.S. and its related assets as part of the settlement of the FTC charges. 

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