MAC: Mines and Communities

Mittal eyes Anglo American's mining assets

Published by MAC on 2005-10-30

Mittal eyes Anglo American's mining assets

Dominic O'Connell, The Times (UK)

October 30, 2005

LAKSHMI MITTAL, Britain's richest man, is understood to be considering snapping up some of the mining assets put up for sale last week by Anglo American, the FTSE 100 mining group.

Mittal, who last week triumphed in the battle for Kryvorizhstal, the Ukrainian steel producer, with a $4.8 billion (£2.7 billion) bid, is understood to lead a list of companies queuing to register interest in the range of assets slated for disposal by the world's third- largest mining group.

Mittal's steel empire, the world's biggest, is hunting for iron-ore mines to feed its mills. It recently completed a $9 billion deal in India that will give it access to the high-quality ore mines in the state of Jharkhand.

Anglo has hired UBS, the merchant bank, to handle its strategic review.

Last week Anglo announced that it would consider the sale of its gold, paper and packaging and industrial minerals - which includes ferrous metals that would be of interest to Mittal.

Analysts said the disposals could together fetch more than £6.7 billion.

The proceeds are likely to be returned to shareholders in the form of a special dividend or share buyback.

One trophy asset that has been put on the block is Tarmac, the UK aggregates group. Analysts speculate that likely bidders include Hanson, the FTSE 100 building-materials company, and that it could even attract bids from private-equity players.

The Anglo American break-up is an important step for the mining group. It includes plans to reduce its 51% stake in Anglo Gold Ashanti, one of the oldest parts of the famous mining combine.

Tony Trahar, Anglo's chief executive, said the company could either sell shares, or allow its shareholding to fall below a controlling stake by not buying into any new issues of shares by the gold-mining company.

Anglo has not yet quite cut its ties with Tarmac. It said the British company would be sold if margins did not improve.

Bankers said the Anglo break-up - probably the most far-reaching restructuring in its history - was part of a trend away from conglomerates.

"You are seeing more and more pressure on diversified companies to focus on fewer activities," one source said.

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