Rio Tinto hopes to finalise alumina plant sale by September
The transnational miner said Tuesday it hopes to complete the sale of four alumina plants in France and Germany by the end of September.
ABU DHABI (Reuters) -
Rio Tinto hopes to seal the sale of four alumina plants in France and Germany by the end of September, the chief executive of its aluminium arm said, advancing its push to reduce its footprint in the highly competitive sector.
Rio Tinto Alcan said at the end of March it had received a binding offer from private equity group HIG for its three specialty alumina plants in France and one in Germany and would respond to the offer after consulting unions.
The head of the unit said on Tuesday the deal now looks set to be concluded in the next five months.
"It is going very well and if all goes well we should finish the transaction some time in the third quarter," Jacynthe Cote said at an aluminium conference in Abu Dhabi.
Rio Tinto unveiled plans last October to sell 13 assets only four years after buying aluminium giant Alcan in one of the sector's biggest ever deals.
The world's third-largest diversified miner is selling the non-metallurgical grade alumina plants - in Gardanne, La Bathie and Beyrede in southern France and Teutschenthal in Germany - as part of a worldwide plan to scale back its aluminium business.
Energy-hungry aluminium production is under threat in Europe from smelters in countries with lower fuel prices, notably China and the Middle East.
Rio Tinto is also looking to spin off its Australian Pacific Aluminium business but is prepared to wait to get the best value from any asset sale.
"On our Australia and New Zealand businesses, we are not rushing into any transactions and until now there has been no decision made on the methodology," Cote said adding that the company had not yet decided whether to sell Pacific Aluminum or hold an initial public offering.
She said the world aluminium market looks broadly balanced or even slightly oversupplied this year but that providing there is no global economic downturn the aluminium market could start to tighten next year.
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