Two of the world's largest fertiliser companies, US-based CF Industries and Norway's Yara International, announced Tuesday that they were discussing "a potential merger of equals" to create a new group.
"The discussions are at an early stage, and there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction," Yara International said in a statement which was echoed in a similar declaration by CF Industries.
The announcement boosted Yara stocks by 8.69 percent in morning trading on the Oslo Stock Exchange. CF Industries is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
"This is clearly an interesting combination that would give the new group access to North America and Europe", two major markets for mineral fertilisers, Daniel Johansson, an analyst at Fondsfinans, told AFP.
Yara has sought for some time to expand in North America where CF Industries owns seven major nitrogen fertiliser plants.
In 2010 the Norwegian company lost a bid to take over the US fertiliser company Terra which CF Industries bought for $4.7 billion (3.6 billion euros).
Today CF Industries is worth $12.7 billion, slightly less than Yara, which was valued at $13.6 billion on the Oslo Stock Exchange before opening.
The Norwegian government owns 36.2 percent of Yara and has a stated policy of reducing government ownership in some companies.
However a spokesman said there was no decision yet on whether the state would approve a merger.
"We are aware that discussions are taking place but we point out that we have not taken a position in this matter," said Trond Viken at Norway's Ministry of Trade and Industry.