BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s antitrust regulator decided on Wednesday to study more closely the sale of a fertilizer complex from Vale SA (VALE3.SA) to Yara International ASA (YAR.OL), overturning an earlier ruling to approve the deal without restrictions.
Norway’s Yara, a global producer and distributor of fertilizers, agreed in November to buy mining giant Vale’s fertilizer complex in Cubatão, Brazil, for $255 million in cash.
The deal would give Yara the ability to produce in Brazil nitrogen-based fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate, largely used in growing sugar cane. Brazil is the world’s largest cane producer and processor.
A technical body at Cade, the anti-trust regulator, signed off on the transaction in March, arguing it would not grant Yara a dominant foothold in any of the markets where it operates.
Yet Cade board member João Paulo de Resende argued that Cade should reconsider that ruling after state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA), known as Petrobras, announced it would mothball two fertilizer plants. The two plants account for about half of ammonia consumption in Brazil.
Not only does the Petrobras decision change the parameters used to calculate market share in several fertilizer markets, it is also likely to alter dynamics in the ammonia market, he said.
Ammonia is imported to Brazil mostly through a port terminal connected to the Piaçaguera industrial complex that would be acquired by Yara as part of the transaction, Resende added.
Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Cynthia Osterman