03 July 2012 22:05 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Canadian fertilizer major PotashCorp said on Tuesday it will continue defending itself against a price-fixing lawsuit that has been given new life by a US Appeals Court.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago last week revived an antitrust lawsuit brought against PotashCorp and six other potash producers by buyers who claimed the producers conspired to inflate prices of the crop nutrient.
The suit was originally filed in 2008 and the case was denied by the Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2011.
The buyers then successfully requested a rehearing.
Last Wednesday, the Court reversed its decision, unanimously agreeing that the purchasers may argue that there was direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable link between the alleged global cartel and a six-fold increase in US potash prices from 2003 to 2008.
"The company has a policy of strict compliance with antitrust and competition laws wherever it does business," said PotashCorp spokesman Tom Pasztor.
"The company intends to vigorously defend itself against these claims, which we consider to be without foundation," Pasztor said.
The plaintiffs argue that potash companies had colluded over a five-year period to drive up potash prices by 600% globally by restricting supplies.
The defendants include Canada's Agrium and PotashCorp, Minnesota-based Mosaic and four companies from Russia and Belarus.
Those foreign producers are JSC Uralkali, JSC Silvinit, JSC Belarusian Potash and JSC International Potash. Silvinit and Uralkali merged in 2011.
The plaintiffs include Minn-Chem, Kraft Chemical and several individuals.
The companies accounted for about 71% of global potash supply when the case was brought in 2008, sources said.
'The US consumed 6.2m tons of potash that year, of which 5.3m were imported.
"The allegations suffice, at this stage, to support a plausible story of concerted action," Judge Diane Wood wrote for the eight-judge panel last week.
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