Beijing's forced sale of Glencore Peru mine may play into China's hands

Tue Jun 4, 2013 6:34am EDT
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By Denny Thomas

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Beijing's demand that Glencore Xstrata Plc (GLEN.L: Quote) sell a copper mine in Peru may bring rich dividends for China Inc., as two companies linked to Chinese state-backed groups are weighing rival bids for the $5 billion-plus project.

Interest from Chinese state companies in Glencore's Peruvian mine is a rare 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 3668.HK and Hong Kong-listed MMG Ltd (1208.HK: Quote), both linked to a Chinese state-owned enterprises, are considering offers for Glencore Xstrata's Las Bambas mine, according to people close to the matter, less than three months after Beijing blessed Glencore's $35 billion purchase of Xstrata.

Under the deal struck with Beijing's Ministry of Commerce in April, Glencore has three months to begin the process of selling Las Bambas, one of the group's biggest development projects, with the expectation of finding a buyer by the end of August 2014.

If the company does not get a binding sale and purchase agreement by the deadline, and have a transfer of ownership by the end of June 2015, Glencore has the option to sell other project sites.

People familiar with the matter say that Glencore intends to explore a sale and has hired BMO Capital Markets and Credit Suisse CSGN.VX to advise on the process. No deadlines for the auction have been set, the people said.

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 440,924 tons a year.

"I'm not sure they're trying to create opportunities," said an Asia investment banker not directly involved with the deal, referring to the Chinese government. "But is it coincidental? Probably not entirely."   Continued...

The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured in front of the company's headquarters in the Swiss town of Baar November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann