UPDATE 1-Canada's Potash seeks control of Israel Chemicals -CFO
* Potash Corp wants to buy at least majority stake
* Canadian company not looking to cut production, jobs - CFO
Feb 26 (Reuters) - Potash Corp of Canada wants to buy at least majority control of ICL Israel Chemicals Ltd and sees local opposition to its approach as based on unfounded fears, Potash's chief financial officer said on Tuesday.
Potash, the world's largest producer of its namesake crop nutrient by capacity, is aiming to boost its 14 percent stake to at least 51 percent and preferably 100 percent of ICL, the world's sixth-largest potash producer.
"The opposition you're seeing now is fear of the unknown," CFO Wayne Brownlee said in remarks at BMO Capital Markets Global Metals & Mining conference in Hollywood, Florida, that were distributed via webcast.
The largest shareholder in ICL is the conglomerate Israel Corporation Ltd, which owns more than 52 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. The Israeli government holds a golden share in ICL, giving it the authority to decide on any potential takeover of the company.
A spokesman for Israel Corp said there are no talks between the companies currently because Potash Corp first needs approval from the government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to assemble a coalition government after January's general election.
Brownlee also said Saskatchewan-based Potash has not been talking with stakeholders in ICL recently because of the election.
Workers at Israel Chemicals have said they would hold protests in coming weeks to prevent the proposed deal, which they fear will lead to layoffs.
Addressing those concerns on Tuesday, the Potash official said the company is not interested in cutting production or employment levels if it acquired ICL. He said the rationale was to become the "lowest cost provider" of potash "to anywhere in the world."
It also does not want to increase its stake and remain a passive investor, Brownlee said.