Forced sale of Glencore mine in Peru may play into China's hands

June 5, 2013

Less than three months after China approved of Glencore’s $35 billion acquisition of Xstrata on the condition that the newly formed company sell a copper mine in Peru, two companies linked to Chinese state backed groups are considering the Peruvian copper mine, Reuters reported.

It seems to be a case of an asset sale forced by a government as a condition of merger approval working in favor of its own national champions, and underscores China's new-found clout in regulating global takeovers.

Chinalco Mining Corp International and Hong Kong-listed MMG Ltd, are linked to a Chinese state-owned enterprises, are considering offers for Glencore Xstrata’s Las Bambas Mine, according to people close to the matter.

Glencore has three months to begin the process of selling the Las Bambas Mine with the goal of finding a buyer by the end of 2014. Las Bambas is one of the largest development projects for the company. China added the condition for the sale saying it feared the combined company would have too much influence on the price of copper.

Chinalco Mining Corp International, a unit of China's state-run aluminum group, and MMG Ltd, controlled by China's Minmetals, are in talks with banks to advise them on bids for Las Bambas, which is slated to produce a minimum of 441 kt tons a year.

Chinalco Mining Corp, which raised $400 million through a Hong Kong IPO in February, is developing a copper-molybdenum-silver mine in central Peru. The company has a market value of just $1.5 billion and it would need funding from its parent or other institutions to finance any bid.

People familiar with the matter say Chinalco Mining and MMG are in talks with investment banks to pursue a bid, and that they are not the only companies interested. The two companies are yet to appoint any investment banks to advise on the deal, the sources told Reuters.

At the time of the Glencore-Xstrata deal, Chinese authorities were focused on Glencore's influence over the copper market. The forced divestment reflects China's appetite for metal and the political side of the regulator's mission, as much as Glencore's own weight.

Combined, Glencore and Xstrata account for roughly 7 percent of global copper supply, and analysts and traders have estimated that Glencore controls between 10 and 14 percent of Chinese copper concentrate imports.

Xstrata approved development of Las Bambas over a four-year period in August 2010, four months before Glencore first unveiled merger plans with Xstrata. Demand for copper has since waned, with the metal's price down about 8 percent this year.



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