K+S Post-Takeover

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

mark roberts k + s mgmt board member
Mark Roberts, a management board member at K + S, can smile again after the company fought off a hostile takeover.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    After fending off a hostile takeover attempt from rival Potash Corp. of Canada, German salt and potash maker K + S wants to double its operating profit by 2020 through organic growth and acquisitions.

  • Facts


    • K + S is a German company that has been mining and processing mineral such as salt and potash for 125 years.
    • In October, K + S fended off a hostile takeover from rival PotashCorp.
    • K + S said Potash’s offer was too low; its own shareholders agreed.
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Mark Roberts is a member of the management board of K+S, the world’s largest maker of salt and Europe’s largest supplier of potash, which is used in fertilizers. American-born Mr. Roberts was chief executive of Morton Salt in Chicago when it was acquired by K+S in 2012. Mr. Roberts’ responsibilities include K+S’s salt businesses.

Handelsblatt: Are you the first one to look out the window to see if it’s snowing? How is the business in de-icing salt shaping up?

Mr. Roberts: I’m always the first one in the gym in the morning. It doesn’t make me nervous if it’s not very winter-like outside. After all, the season has just begun. We just had two very good winters in North America.

The prices for de-icing salt are at a level very favorable for us, and the demand has been above average this fall. Besides, two snowstorms are enough to change the picture in the United States. And, as here in Europe, we have had a couple of days of winter weather in some regions. Overall, we are well prepared and stocked up with de-icing salt to fully meet the demands of our customers when needed.

Naturally, the de-icing salt business is important to us. However, such sales in 2014 made up less than 50 percent of the overall salt business division, so most of the revenues come from other market segments.

K+S’ salt division plans to double earnings before interest and taxes by 2020. You have said more than 400 employees are working on the effort. What measures are being planned?

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