Glencore snaps up Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek coal mine and project for $1.7bn

Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques wants the company to withdraw from the coal market. (Reuters)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Glencore snaps up Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek coal mine and project for $1.7bn

SYDNEY: Glencore is buying Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek coal mine and the Valeria coal project in Australia for $1.7 billion, tightening the Swiss trading and mining giant’s grip on coal as its rivals exit the industry.
The acquisition, announced by both companies on Tuesday, follows Glencore’s purchase of half of Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley coal operations, also in Australia, for $1.1 billion last year in a deal with China’s Yancoal Australia.
Glencore is already the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal used for power stations, and Hail Creek will give it a bigger stake in metallurgical coal used for steelmaking.
“You’ve got one of the few big companies, in Glencore, that is both willing and able and clearly likes coal strategically and has been acquiring these assets,” said Paul Gait, an analyst at Bernstein in London.
The sale consists of Rio’s 82 percent interest in the Hail Creek operating mine and its 71.2 percent interest in the Valeria project, the company said in a statement.
Rio Tinto made a strategic decision in 2017 to exit coal and focus on growth in iron ore, copper and its aluminum division.
On Tuesday it said it was still looking to sell its remaining Australian coal assets — the Kestrel coking coal mine and the Winchester South development project. Investors had expected the two mines and projects to be sold as a package.
“The best option to extract value for our shareholders is to go in a piecemeal approach,” Rio CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques told reporters after a business event in Melbourne.
Analysts said the price for Hail Creek and Valeria looked good for Rio Tinto while not too expensive for Glencore.
“Given we all expected a $2 billion to $2.5 billion number for Hail Creek plus Kestrel and the other stuff, it’s a pretty big number,” said Shaw and Partners analyst Peter O’Connor in Sydney.
Gait said that he was bullish on metallurgical coal prices, now above $200 a ton, which would help justify the price Glencore agreed to pay.
“Glencore clearly have synergies in terms of both the operating and, physically, the marketing of these assets and when I look at the price that they’ve acquired these things for, it doesn’t seem to me to be exorbitant,” he said.
Rio Tinto said it planned to use the sale proceeds “for general corporate purposes,” however Jacques did not rule out returning the cash to shareholders
in future.
“You shouldn’t draw any conclusions. The next time we review it will be in August,” he told reporters, referring to the company’s next moves on capital management.
UBS has forecast that the sale of Hail Creek and Kestrel could help Rio hand back more than $9 billion to shareholders over the next 12 months.
The Hail Creek deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2018, Rio said.
The remaining 18 percent of Hail Creek is owned by units of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp, Marubeni Corp. and Sumitomo Corp, which all have rights to sell their stakes to Glencore, which it said in a statement would cost up to $340 million.
Glencore declined to comment further on the acquisition.


Potential SABIC deal would affect Saudi Aramco IPO time frame, says CEO Nasser

Updated 20 July 2018
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Potential SABIC deal would affect Saudi Aramco IPO time frame, says CEO Nasser

JEDDAH: A potential deal to buy a stake in petrochemical maker SABIC would affect the time frame of Saudi Aramco's initial public offering (IPO), the oil firm's president and CEO Amin H. Nasser said Friday. 

The IPO of around 5 percent of Aramco, which was initially to take place this year but is now more likely to happen later, would be the world's biggest listing, raising up to $100 billion.

Nasser said that buying a stake in a chemical company like SABIC would positively affect Aramco's revenue, Al Arabiya reported.

“We are still in the very early stages of the discussion to buy a stake in SABIC,” the Aramco CEO said.

“Aramco is ready for the initial offer and the timing remains subject to the state's decision.”

Saudi Aramco said on Thursday it is looking at the possibility of buying a stake in SABIC, a move that could boost the state oil giant’s market valuation ahead of the planned IPO.
Aramco said in a statement that it was in “very early-stage discussions” with the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to acquire the stake in SABIC via a private transaction. It has no plans to acquire any publicly held shares, it said.
In a separate statement, PIF also said talks about a sale were in early stages. “There is a possibility that no agreement will be reached in relation to this potential transaction,” it said.