CF drops takeover bid

CALGARY — A three-way takeover stalemate that has gripped North America’s fertilizer industry for more than a year saw some signs of easing on Thursday, with CF Industries Holdings Inc. (NYSE:CF) saying it is dropping its hostile pursuit of U.S. rival Terra Industries Inc. (NYSE:TRA).

CALGARY — A three-way takeover stalemate that has gripped North America’s fertilizer industry for more than a year saw some signs of easing on Thursday, with CF Industries Holdings Inc. (NYSE:CF) saying it is dropping its hostile pursuit of U.S. rival Terra Industries Inc. (NYSE:TRA).

The move clears a key obstacle out of the way for Calgary-based Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU), which has had its sights set on CF since last February, but has seen all of its overtures rebuffed.

Agrium’s more than US$5.4-billion offer for CF was made on the condition CF abandon its efforts to take over Terra.

Both hostile takeover bids and the trend towards consolidation come as the fertilizer industry benefits from strong demand for its crop-enhancing products around the world, especially in Asia.

An Agrium spokesman said late Thursday that the company was surprised by the CF announcement, but did not immediately have any other comment.