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Potash Corp. lawsuit allowed to proceed

A U.S. federal judge said Monday he would allow the discovery process to proceed in a lawsuit filed by Potash Corp. (POT-T) to fend off BHP Billiton's (BHP-N) $39 billion US hostile takeover bid.

The lawsuit, filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Chicago, alleges that BHP misrepresented material facts related to its bid for the world's largest producer of potash - a key crop nutrient.

As part of the discovery process, Potash Corp. has asked that BHP produce a long list of documents that include BHP's statements regarding investments in the potash industry and the minutes of BHP's board meetings that relate to the potash sector and its plans to develop its Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan.

The company has also requested that some of BHP's top executives present depositions in relation to the matter.

"I have read the motion and read the responses, unless BHP is prepared to extend the tender date, I am not going to stay discovery," said Judge David Coar, in response to BHP's request that expedited discovery be denied.

Judge Coar said that the court would conduct a hearing on Potash Corp.'s request for a preliminary injunction to block BHP from proceeding with its tender offer on Nov. 4, ahead of the Nov. 18 deadline on BHP's bid. 

An attorney representing BHP in the matter told the court that the Anglo-Australian miner intends to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The case is Potash Corp. v. BHP Billiton in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, No. 1:10-cv-06024.

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