Brunei, the largest shareholder in Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC), is selling its 37 percent stake to India’s two biggest fertilizer companies – Indian Potash Limited and Kisan International Trading FZE – in a contract worth around 130 million, the Amman stock exchange announced. The two Indian companies bought the stake in Jordan’s biggest chemical and mining firm from Kamil Holdings Limited, which is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.
Brunei acquired the stake 12 years ago from Jordan when the country was seeking to attract foreign direct investment in a privatization scheme that was led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Brunei deal, whose main objective was to get the indebted and loss-making firm into financial shape, was later criticized by Jordan’s parliament for alleged corruption, part of a backlash against privatization and economic nationalism that swept the country.
Analysts say that Brunei has been looking to divest its JPMC holding after former CEO Walid Kurdi, a member of the royal family who fled the country in 2012, was sentenced to 22 years in prison in absentia on charges of embezzlement of millions of dollars. Amman in turn said that it was interested in buying back the shares but it was planning to regain control of some key businesses, including JPMC.
The Amman stock exchange confirmed that the transaction involved the sale of 30.5 million shares to the Indian firms at 2.98 dinars ($4.20) per share. JPMC’s shares closed at 3.3 dinars last weekend. Meanwhile, Canada’s Potash Corp and Japan’s Mitsubishi were also interested in acquiring the stake. JPMC is one of the largest manufacturers of phosphates globally, producing up to seven million tons a year of rock phosphates.