Contractor ITD weighs sale of potash business

Contractor ITD weighs sale of potash business

Struggling construction company in talks for deal that could raise $500 million

Activists in Udon Thani rally against potash exploration planned by Asia-Pacific Potash Corp in 2012. The company first applied for mining rights in 2003 but did not receive official approval until 2022. (Bangkok Post File Photo)
Activists in Udon Thani rally against potash exploration planned by Asia-Pacific Potash Corp in 2012. The company first applied for mining rights in 2003 but did not receive official approval until 2022. (Bangkok Post File Photo)

Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) is considering selling its 90% stake in Asia Pacific Potash Corp, which has mining rights in northeastern Thailand, and is seeking about $500 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

The SET-listed construction company is working with an adviser and talking with potential buyers, including from China, one of the sources said.

Talks with potential interested parties may not lead to a deal, they said, asking not to be identified as the information was confidential.

Asia Pacific Potash referred queries from Bloomberg News to ITD, which did not respond to a request for comment.

ITD in January surprised the market when it sought to delay payment of 2 billion baht in bonds due this month. Bondholders subsequently agreed to approve extending redemption dates for two years, in return for higher interest payments.

ITD, one of the country’s biggest construction firms, acquired Asia Pacific Potash in 2006. The company has exploration and development rights to high-grade potash deposits in the northeastern province Udon Thani.

Asia Pacific Potash applied to the government for rights to the 10,500-acre site in 2003, but it took until 2022 for it to receive official approval to operate the project for 21 years, according to the company’s website. It has annual capacity of 2 million tonnes of potash, the company said.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin inspected the main mine on Feb 19, according to a government statement. He asked about the source of funds for the project and also met citizens opposed to the potash mine.

ITD’s market value has shrunk dramatically since peaking at $3 billion in the 1990s, falling to $100 million now. The company, which was founded in 1954, reported a net loss of 44.7 million baht in the third quarter of 2023 and a loss of 4.76 billion baht for all of 2022.

ITD shares closed on Thursday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 0.72 baht, up 2 satang, in trade worth 7 million baht.

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