Monday, June 24, 2024

Mining giant Anglo American to break up its sprawling business as it tries to fend off takeover

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LONDON — Mining giant Anglo American PLC plans to break up its sprawling worldwide business — including spinning off the DeBeers diamond operation — as it seeks to fend off a takeover and focus on minerals that are expected to boom amid the global shift to green energy.

London-based Anglo American said Tuesday that it would spin off its platinum business, sell a unit that produces coal used in steel production and “explore all options” to separate DeBeers from the parent company.

The moves will allow Anglo American to concentrate on the production of copper and iron ore, which together accounted for more than two-thirds of its profit last year. The company will also retain its crop nutrients business.

The announcement came a day after Anglo American rejected a sweetened takeover bid from rival BHP Group that valued the company at 34 billion pounds ($42.6 billion). That was about 9% higher that BHP’s previous offer.

“We are taking clear and decisive action to deliver value — safely, responsibly and reliably — in the long-term interests of our shareholders and other stakeholders, and to deliver the products that are so critical to enabling the energy transition and supporting improved global living standards and food security,” Anglo Chief Executive Duncan Wangled said in a statement.

Anglo American shares fell 2.8% to 2,632 pence in midafternoon trading in London on Tuesday. The stock had risen as much as 33% in the previous three weeks on speculation about a takeover.

The company is seeking to simplify its operations and boost returns for shareholders by focusing on a smaller range of products that are likely to benefit from the drive to reduce the use of fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions linked to global warming.

Demand for copper, a key component of electrical wiring, solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles, is expected to double by 2035, according to an analysis from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Anglo American also says high-quality iron ore from its mines can help steel producers reduce carbon emissions, while the naturally occurring fertilizer the company produces can help boost crop yields and reduce emissions from agriculture.

Anglo American was the world’s eighth-biggest mining company last year, when it reported revenue of $30.7 billion. That was dwarfed by the $217.8 billion generated by Glencore, the world’s biggest miner.

Anglo American was founded more than 100 years ago to mine gold in South Africa and quickly expanded into diamonds, platinum and copper.

At the end of last year, the company had about 60,000 employees in 13 countries stretching from Australia to Peru.

The company owns 85% of De Beers, which produces about a third of the world’s rough diamonds and sells diamond jewelry. The remainder is owned by the government of Botswana.

South Africa remains at the heart of Anglo American’s business, with the company employing more than 36,000 people in the country at the end of last year.

Anglo American acknowledged the impact the reorganization plan could have on workers, promising to engage with “relevant stakeholders” and comply with all consultation requirements and local laws.

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