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IMC to sell port assets

IMC Global Inc. said Tuesday that its IMC Phosphates Co. unit has agreed to sell its Port Sutton marine terminal in East Tampa to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners for $23.5-million in cash.

Although Kinder Morgan will own and operate the 114-acre terminal, IMC said that it will have a long-term contract for the handling and storage of its phosphate and animal-feed products. IMC also said it will continue leasing the terminal's 50,000-ton anhydrous-ammonia handling facility. IMC's Big Bend marine terminal, south of the Port Sutton terminal, won't be part of the deal, the company said.

No closing date has been set, as details are still being worked out.

IMC of Lake Forest, Ill., is a leading producer and marketer of phosphate, fertilizer and animal-feed ingredients. The sale of the Port Sutton terminal is part of the company's effort to raise cash by selling noncore assets. IMC's phosphate profit margins have come under pressure from stagnating prices for diammonium phosphate, a key product, and rising costs for sulphur and ammonia, which are used to process phosphate into fertilizer.

Florida's phosphate reserves account for three-quarters of the U.S. phosphate supply and one-quarter of the worldwide market, according to the Florida Phosphate Council in Tallahassee. Phosphate and related products are vital to the Port of Tampa, where they are the second-largest cargo item after petroleum products and account for most of the port's exports, port spokesman Steve Valley said.

_ Louis Hau can be reached at or (813) 226-3404.