Uralkali reports it is making preparations for their upcoming Extraordinary Meeting of Shareholders scheduled for November 29. The announcement includes a list of candidates for seats on the board which includes jailed CEO Vladislav Baumgertner.
Buamgertner was detained in Minsk after a meeting with the Prime Minister of Belarus lured him across the Russian border. Baumgertner was charged with abuse of power -- remember Tymoshenko? -- which would carry a prison sentence of ten years. Baumgertner has since been moved to house arrest and Russian and Belorussian authorities are negotiating.
In a statement today, Uralkali Board Chairman Alexander Voloshin said, "We note the statements in the press regarding the development of criminal proceedings in Russia against Uralkali's CEO Vladislav Baumgertner and other Company employees.
The Board and all Uralkali employees respect the work of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation and are prepared to render any necessary assistance to its investigation. However, the Company is not aware of any information that would change its position in respect of the CEO. The Board of Directors is actively monitoring these developments and will take such actions as are appropriate and necessary in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders."
As negotiations progress from Russo-import sanctions against Belarus to Baumgertners's move to house arrest from a Belorussian gulag, Uralkali obviously believes they will get their man back. At the same time, Director of Sales Oleg Petrov notes that Uralkali intends to focus on Brazil, China and India and expects the current low price of potash to excite demand for all three. Looking ahead, Petrov is confident that sendouts for the remainder of 2013 will deplete inventories and allow for a renegotiated price.
Hope springs eternal in the Perm Region of Russia where Uralkali makes its home. Baumgertner's detention hasn't kept him off the Board of Director's ballot -- a fact that may raise Belorussian ire -- and low potash prices have not discouraged production. Uralkali boasts the widest production margins of any of the world's potash producers and can afford lower sendout values.
Its business as usual at Uralkali, even in light of the break-up of BPC. Nothing in what officials are saying indicates the two will mend fences and restart the joint venture. Baumgertner's name on the ballot betrays optimism on that front, and Petrov made it clear today that he believes sendouts will encourage production and price recovery over the coming months.