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Morning Meeting: Are the Russians still coming?

A Potash Corp.mine in Lanigan, Sask.

Handout/ Potash Corp./Handout/ Potash Corp.

A look at some must-read news on deals and deal makers around the world

Are the Russians still coming?

Russia's Phosagro is still interested in a bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., and will consult the Canadian government on a possible bid, Reuters reports.

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It should be interesting to hear what the Canadian government has to say in the wake of rejecting BHP Billiton Ltd.'s offer for Potash Corp. The argument of lack of experience, used against BHP, wouldn't wash with the Russians given that they do have plenty of experience digging up and marketing potash. Still, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is unlikely to be any more enamoured with the idea of Russian ownership than Australian for Potash Corp., so the political dynamic would be unlikely to favour Phosagro. Not that politics had anything to do with it.

BHP Billiton Ltd.'s chariman Jac Nasser says there's a rising tide globally of protectionism, and Canada's rejection of the bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. is a victim of that. Globe and Mail reporter Andy Hoffman journeyed to Perth, Australia, to see Mr. Nasser at the BHP annual meeting. "There is certainly a trend towards a more difficult process when you're looking at larger cross-border transactions," Mr. Nasser said after the meeting.

In Canada, the government plans to soon give more clarity on how it interprets the foreign-takeover rules under which the deal was rejected. In the meantime, the regular Tuesday print edition of Streetwise endeavours to provide a handy (and somewhat tongue-in-cheek) checklist for would-be acquirers in this new, politicized environment.

Caterpillar becomes acquisition machine

The new chief executive of Caterpillar Inc. is turning the construction equipment maker into an acquisition machine to grow in emerging markets, Bloomberg News reports.

U.S. banks in dividend debate

It's not just Canadian banks looking at when they can raise dividends under new regulatory scrutiny. U.S. banks face the issue too, even Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which never cut its dividend in the financial mess, Reuters Breakingviews reports.

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Meantime, investor John Paulson is lightening his holdings of U.S. banks, including selling his Goldman stake, and looking instead at restructurings as a source of profit.

Rothschild invests $3-billion (U.S.) in coal venture

The coal industry continues to attract interest, with a Rothschild heir investing $3-billion in an Indonesian coal venture. Small wonder that BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. is honing its focus on winning deal mandates in the sector.

No Postmedia IPO until at least 2011

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. won't join the parade of companies heading for the initial public offering market soon. The unprofitable company, which owns Globe and Mail competitor National Post among other newspapers, will stay private until early 2011. Given the state of the Canadian initial public offering market, it's not a big surprise. Many offerings have been forced to cut their prices, while others have floundered in trading once they are public.

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