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Norway’s Yara fires CEO

October 7, 2014
Chemical Value Chain

(Reuters) – Norwegian fertiliser firm Yara International said on Tuesday it had fired chief executive Joergen Ole Haslestad and that its merger talks with rival CF Industries would continue under the leadership of its finance chief.

Haslestad is effectively the second CEO casualty since the merger talks were announced last month.

Yara had appointed aluminium producer Norsk Hydro’s CEO Svein Richard Brandtzaeg to run the firm from early 2015, but Brandtzaeg turned down the role after learning about the merger talks.

“Yara’s board have concluded that Haslestad is not the right person to lead the company going forward, also in light of the on-going talks with CF Industries,” Yara’s chairman of the board, Leif Teksum, said in a statement.

“Haslestad would not have a role in a potential merged company,” the statement added.

Chief Financial Officer Torgeir Kvidal will take over as acting CEO and lead the Yara team conducting the talks.

Haslestad was originally set to retire next year after leading Yara since 2008.
 
Shares in Yara were down 0.19 percent at 0715 GMT, slightly outperforming the Oslo benchmark index down 0.6 percent.
 
Yara and Chicago-based CF Industries announced last month they were in early stage talks about a merger of equals that would create a $27.5 billion rival in size to world number one fertilizer producer Potash Corp.
 
The deal would give Yara, the world’s biggest nitrate fertiliser maker, major production units in the United States, where costs are lower due to cheap gas. CF Industries would gain a global footprint through Yara’s presence in 150 countries with production assets and a well established distribution network.
 
Potentially the biggest hurdle to any deal would be the Norwegian government, which owns a 36.2 percent stake in Yara.
 
The government said in June it would not cut its stake below 34 percent and any change in that stance would likely require approval in parliament, an uphill battle as the government rules in a minority and relies on opposition parties to push through its agenda.
 
The two firms’ combined market capitalisation of $27.5 billion would put it almost on par with Canada’s Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, the world’ largest fertilizer firm worth $28.9 billion. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche, editing by Terje Solsvik/Keith Weir)
 
 

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