October 16, 2011 / 10:23 PM / in 6 years

Rio Tinto says to trim aluminium business

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto RIO.AXRIO.L plans to sell 13 aluminum assets, trimming the business it expanded with the badly timed $39 billion acquisition of Alcan four years ago as it tries to boost the division’s performance, it said on Monday.

<p>A train loaded with iron ore travels towards the Rio Tinto Parker Point iron ore facility in Dampier in the Pilbara region of Western Australia April 20, 2011. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>

It plans to sell assets in Australia and New Zealand, and plants in France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom.

“The strength of our balance sheet means that we can choose the most opportune method and timing to divest these assets, which may not occur until the economic climate improves,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese said in a statement.

The company said it will set up a new unit called Pacific Aluminum to hold the six Australian and New Zealand units that will be put up for sale, including the Gove bauxite mine and alumina refinery, the Tomago smelter and its New Zealand smelters.

The plants in France, Germany, the United States and Britain that will be put up for sale will continue to be managed by Canada-based Rio Tinto Alcan.

“This move is a further significant step toward achieving our performance targets in the Aluminum product group,” Albanese said.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Michael Smith

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