Potash Battle Has Private Equity Tie

The day’s biggest takeover battle has at least one tie to private equity.

Canadian fertilizer company Potash Corp today rebuffed a $130 per share offer from BHP Billiton, saying it was insufficient. Subsequent speculation has been that BHP may sweeten its offer and that the mining industry will consolidate the potash industry (potash refers to a powdery salt used primarily in fertilizers).

But wait. The BHP-Potash tussle does involve a buyout shop. Well at least tangentially.  Jacques Nasser, chairman of BHP Billiton, is currently a partner at One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

According to the New York Times, Nasser is no stranger to big mergers. He is the former CEO of Ford Motor and oversaw the acquisition of Volvo and Land Rover (units that were later sold off).

In the Potash battle, JP Morgan Chase, along with TD Securities, is advising BHP Billiton. Potash has its own team of advisors, including Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and RBC Capital Markets.

“One Equity Partners has nothing to do with BHP’s bid for Potash,” a source said. “BHP is completely and totally separate. There is no connection.”

JP Morgan declined comment.