October 4, 2017 / 1:40 PM / in 18 days

Minerals firm K+S to keep salt operations - source

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German minerals miner K+S (SDFGn.DE) will rule out a separate listing of its salt activities, owner of the Morton Salt brand, when it unveils the results of a strategic review on Monday, a person familiar with the company’s thinking said.

FILE PHOTO - he site of Thuringia potassium mine of salt producer K+S Group is pictured near the eastern German village of Unterbreizbach, near Bad-Hersfeld, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Chief Executive Officer Burkhard Lohr has continued a company review started by his predecessor Norbert Steiner, who stepped down in May, and is looking at ways to boost the value of its salt unit.

“There won’t be a Salt IPO. It doesn’t make any strategic sense and it doesn’t pay off,” the source said on Wednesday, requesting anonymity ahead of the official announcement.

Instead of focusing on one large step, Lohr will present a wide range of measures under a programme dubbed “Shaping 2030” on Monday, two people close to the matter told Reuters.

The company declined to comment.

K+S, the world’s largest salt producer and the fifth-largest seller of potash, is grappling with a slow recovery in potash prices and output restrictions at its German mines.

The miner said in May it was looking at ways to get its share price to better reflect the value of the salt business

“The separation of the American Salt activities has been predicted by financial markets previously,” Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Christian Faitz said in a research note last month, adding there were synergies between potash and salt that the group was keen to preserve.

He added at the time that the salt business, mainly comprising the U.S. Morton Salt business and Chilean open-pit mines for road de-icing, would be worth about 3.6 billion euros (3.19 billion pounds)including debt, compared with a current market value plus debt of 7 billion for the entire group. Revenues, operating profit and profit margins over sales at the salt unit have lagged behind the potash division for many years, but last year it overtook potash in all three.

Shares in the company, which fended off a 41 euro-per-share takeover approach from Potash Corp (POT.TO) in 2015, are trading at about 23 euros and have stayed below 25 euros this year.

Lohr’s predecessor said at the time of the bid that it did not fully take into account the value of the salt business or a new Canadian potash mine which it started ramping up this year.(This version of the story repeats to add byline. Adds background, analyst.)

Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger and Arno Schuetze; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter

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