NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- That sound you hear is the sound of a white knight galloping away from a fight, as Potash's (POT) best hope for a rival bidder in its effort to thwart BHP Billiton's (BHP) - Get Report advances appears to have vanished.



, the giant Chinese state-run chemicals conglomerate, has decided not to make a counteroffer for Potash, according to a scoop by


, which cited three unnamed sources.

>>Potash vs. BHP: the Fertilizer War From A to Z

BHP has been pursuing a $39 billion

hostile takeover of Potash

-- the world's largest fertilizer producer -- for nearly two months. BHP's tender for Potash shares has a deadline of Nov. 18. Regulators in Canada are expected to rule on the offer around the same time.

Rumors and anonymously-sourced news items had for weeks suggested that Sinochem was attempting to assemble some kind of consortium of investors to either takeover Potash outright or purchase a blocking stake in its shares. It's long been assumed that the Chinese government, concerned about crops and food supplies for its billions of citizens, was pushing for a way to thwart BHP from acquiring such a crucial resource company, which itself controls a large portion of the global potash market.

Some had pointed to big Canadian pension funds such as the

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan


Alberta Investment Management

, or Singapore's sovereign wealth fund


, as possible partners with Sinochem in a Potash bid. According to


, talks of those kind of fell apart, or were nonstarters.

The newswire cites a source as saying that Sinochem gave up on the Potash idea "five or six weeks" ago. Which is odd, since about the same number of weeks ago, Sinochem reportedly hired investment bankers at Citigroup and Deutsche Bank to advise it on the matter.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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