Faced with supply difficulties linked to Russia's war on Ukraine, the Australian fertiliser producer Incitec Pivot has restarted its imports of phosphates from the Boucraa mine in the Sahara, operated by OCP. It had stopped sourcing there in 2016, after protest from Scandinavian shareholders.
On a tour of southern Africa, Russian Federation Council leader Valentina Matvienko promised Zimbabwe and Mozambique that their imports of basic necessities would not be hit by the war in Ukraine. But the Kremlin envoy notably did not include South Africa in her trip.
The halt in Russian and Ukrainian wheat exports has opened a window of opportunity for French grain producers in North and West Africa, who in recent weeks have been able to act as substitute suppliers at short notice.
The European Union's decision on 9 March to blacklist the oligarch Andrey Melnichenko, who holds a majority stake in Eurochem, is likely to disrupt Helios's plans. The fund had been counting on the Russian-Swiss fertiliser giant to raise the stakes on Solevo against OCP.
Solevo, a fertiliser and agricultural inputs trading company, was bought from Louis Dreyfus Company in 2016 by the British fund Helios and the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek. It will soon be put back on the market by its shareholders.
Morocco's OCP, which is the leader in the fast-growing African fertilisers market, has run into increasing competition from Russia's PhosAgro and Saudi Arabia's Maaden, particularly on its west African "home" turf. The battle has been made fiercer by the direct interventions made by heads of state and governments.
Lithuania is increasingly worried about the possibility of Belarusian potassium chloride provider Belaruskali falling into Russian hands, having already had to accept that the fertiliser was no longer exported via its ports. The potash producer's Russian competitor Uralkali is keeping an eager eye on the situation.