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Speculation surrounds purchase of SQM shares

Bnamericas Published: Monday, January 17, 2005
Chilean brokerage firm LarrainVial purchased 3.17% of the shares of Chilean non-metallic miner Socieded Química y Minera (SQM) on the Santiago stock exchange on Friday, fuelling suggestions that the purchase was on behalf of SQM president and largest shareholder Julio Ponce, local press reported. LarrainVial purchased the shares in two different lots for a total price of almost US$60mn without any rival bids being made. The shares were sold by stock brokerage firm Celfin on behalf of Chilean pension funds AFP Habitat and AFP BBVA Provida. The importance of the shares is based on the fact that they allow the holders to choose directors at SQM. Ponce is said to be competing for control of the board with Canada's Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS), which recently increased its shareholding in SQM to just under 25%. Ponce currently controls the board through companies Pampa Calichera and Global Mining.

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