NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- BHP Billiton received approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to move ahead with its attempt to subsume Potash -- the first but mostly like the easiest regulatory endorsement the company must obtain in order to complete the deal.

This comes two days after Potash sued BHP in U.S. federal court in an effort to block the hostile takeover bid.

The stiffest regulatory tests for BHP still lie ahead, in the Great White North. BHP must receive the imprimatur of Canada's Competition Bureau in Ottawa, which will look to Saskatchewan for much of its guidance in the matter.

To that end, BHP CEO Marius Kloppers has been jetting around Canada of late, making visits to Saskatchewan and Ottawa in order to lobby politicians and other functionaries.

Whether or not a white knight emerges to compete with BHP for Potash, it's almost universally believed that the Anglo-Australian miner will need to raise its offer above the $130 a share (or $39 billion) that's on the table now.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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