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Robert Trigaux

Mosaic Co. named in price-fixing suit



Price-fixing potash? Say it ain't so. Minnesota fertilizer giant Mosaic Co., a major player in the Tampa Bay business arena, and seven other large fertilizer companies are accused of price-fixing and collusion in a federal lawsuit filed last week in Minneapolis.

The companies deny any wrongdoing in two suits brought by industry corporations Minn-Chem and Gage's Fertilizer & Grain Inc. The Minn-Chem suit claims Mosaic has conspired since 2004 with companies in Belarus, Canada and Russia to limit competition and drive up prices of potash. That's a mineral Mosaic mines out of five mines and three plants in Florida and a key ingredient in fertilizer.

Artificially high potash prices have hurt farmers, consumers and smaller fertilizer manufacturers worldwide, according to Richard Lockridge, a Minneapolis attorney who filed the lawsuit. Similar accusations were filed in lawsuits in the early 1990s but were later dismissed. Mosaic executives interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times earlier this year pointed to the rising  global demand for fertilizer as a key reason the company is booming. Despite a struggling economy, Mosaic quadrupled its earnings to $882.5-million in the latest quarter.

Locally, it said this summer it wants to to buy a 7.4-acre tract of land from Newland Communities to build a new office building near FishHawk Ranch to serve as the 400-employee headquarters for Mosaic's phosphate business unit and supply chain group. Mosaic was created in 2004 from the combination of Cargill Crop Nutrition and IMC Global, Inc. Cargill Inc. owns a 65 percent stake in Mosaic.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:22am]


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