NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Suleiman Kerimov has agreed to sell his 21.75% stake in Russian potash producer Uralkali to fellow Russian-born billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, raising hopes of an end to a political dispute between Russia and Belarus that has roiled prices for the fertilizer ingredient.
Prokhorov's Onexim Group announced the deal on Monday, Nov. 18, without disclosing a price for the transaction. It noted that it expects to the deal to "close shortly" and that it does not require any regulatory approval.
"The purchase of the stake in Uralkali is a long-term investment in a company that is unique from the standpoint of its position in its industry and its role in the world economy," Onexim CEO Dmitry Razumov said in a statement. "We are certain that the potash industry has strong fundamentals and that Uralkali, as the world's leading producer and the key player in the industry, has considerable potential for growth in value."
Uralkali has been at the centre of a dispute between Russia and its neighbor Belarus since July, when the potash producer said it plans to pull out of Belarus Potash Co., a joint venture with the state backed JSC Belaruskali.
Uralkali gave notice of its plans on July 30 and warned that is decision to leave the JV, which controlled about 40% of the international potash trade, could send prices for potash to less than $300 a metric ton, down from about $400. Belarus authorities responded in late August by arresting Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner and issued warrants for four other executives, claiming that they had abused their power. Baumgertner remains under house arrest in Minsk.