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Posts Tagged ‘Glencore’

Mining Week 23/’12: Investment dilemmas for BHP and Fortescue

June 3, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Rumour around retention plan for Xstrata executives
    • Several major shareholders have voiced discontent with the approx. $370mln retention bonuses for the top 72 executives of Xstrata that has been made part of the vote on the Glencore-Xstrata merger.
    • Sources: Financial Times 1; Financial Times 2; Wall Street Journal
  • Australian state governments fight for BHP investment
    • BHP Billiton received environmental clearance for the expansion of Port Hedland’s iron ore harbour. The project could cost around $20bln up to 2022 to increase export capacity to 350Mtpa.
    • The government of Southern Australia is pressuring BHP to start the expansion of its Olympic Dam copper/uranium project before the end of the year, threatening not to extend the permits. The Olympic Dam expansion is one of the key projects that might be cancelled or delayed as BHP tries to limit investment and return money to shareholders.
    • Sources: Bloomberg; Business Spectator; Financial Times
  • Fortesque worries about debt servicing
    • Fortescue, Australia’s third largest iron ore miner, is close to completion of an expansion that will enable it to export 155Mtpa iron ore.
    • The CEO of the company has indicated that it will focus on repayment of debt before undertaking further expansion. The company has received negative feedback from investors because of its high gearing. Its Debt/Equity ratio stands at approx. 45%, versus 26% for Vale and Rio Tinto and 15% for BHP Billiton.
    • Sources: Fortescue media release on expansion progress; Wall Street Journal; 9News

Trends & Implications:

  • If BHP decided to press on with the Port Hedland expansion at the expense of large development projects in other business units that would be a next sign that the supermajors are preferring the relatively predictable iron ore market over further diversification. Both Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are considering sale of their iron ore business, BHP is in the process of reviewing the options for its Australian manganese operations, and Vale reached a deal last week to dispose its coal operations.
  • The proposed retention bonuses for the top 72 managers of Xstrata add up to around $370mln, an average of some $5mln per person, 4% of last year’s profit, roughly 1-2 annual executive salaries per person, about $0.8 per share, or some 0.1% of share price. The bonuses are set up to keep the managers with the company for at least another 3 years. Even though we are talking about a lot of money that could trigger ethical debate about the executive pay in the industry, the shareholders hardly have any ground to protest the plan from a business perspective. Retention of the top managers after the merger should certainly enable the company to get a quick payback on the $370mln.

©2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining News 22/’12: Codelco CEO change; Australia recruits overseas

May 28, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Codelco’s CEO quits
    • Diego Hernandez, Codelco’s CEO, decided to quit prior to the end of his terms for personal reasons. Conflicts around the level of interference by the board in management of the government-controlled company are mentioned as the reason. CFO Thomas Keller will take over as CEO.
    • The change of CEO comes in a critical period for Codelco as it is in a legal battle with Anglo American about the ‘Sur’ project, in which Codelco claims to have the option to buy a larger part than Anglo wants to sell.
    • Sources: Financial Times; Wall Street Journal; Reuters
  • Australia implements law to make hiring immigrant workers easier
    • Australia’s new Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) makes it possible to bring in foreign workers on fixed term contracts for projects with an investment of $2bln or higher and a peak workforce of over 1500 employees.
    • The EMA takes a project-wide labor agreement approach, making it possible to have subcontractors bring in people via the overarching project agreement.
    • Sources: Australian government; Wall Street Journal; Financial Times
  • GlenStrata focuses on retention of Xstrata executives
    • As part of the merger deal with Glencore the Xstrata shareholders will get to vote on a $78mln bonus for Mick Davis to stay on for another 3 years. Other executive directors will be offered retention bonuses too.
    • Sources: Financial Times; Reuters;

Trends & Implications:

  • Australia’s EMA will mainly be used for low skilled construction workers. The shortage of highly skilled planning and engineering employees is unlikely to be resolved as those contracts are typically not fixed-term and not project-specific. The Australian government expects it needs to add 89 thousand short-term workers in the next years. Still the unions, which are very powerful in Australia’s resources sector, are complaining about the Agreement, saying that bringing in workers for overseas will hurt the domestic labor market. A key issue in the flexibility of this market is that many workers are available in the East coast region, but most of the work is available in the remote areas on the West coast.
  • As ‘deal-friendly’ investors have built up a share ownership that makes it likely that Xstrata’s shareholders will vote in favor of the merger with Glencore in the currently proposed 2.8x share proportion, the focus of management activity shifts back to regulatory issues and planning for post-merger activities. A key issue in th successful integration of the companies will be to join the corporate cultures of the trader and the miner. The retention efforts will likely go further than just executive leadership, targeting several hundreds of top management. At the same time the company will have to work on retaining the top traders and top management from Glencore’s side.

©2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining Week 20/’12: Commodity outlook and potential US coal takeover

May 13, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Glencore and Rio Tinto fuel commodities outlook discussion
    • Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg joined his collegue at Noble group and Rio Tinto’s CEO Tom Albanese in stressing that there are no clear signs of a slowdown of Chinese commodities demand.
    • Glasenberg stressed that inventory levels for many commodities are relatively low at the moment, contrary to the belief that increasing inventories should cause a drop of commodity prices somewhere in the next year.
    • Sources: Financial Times; FT Video on Noble outlook; The Australian

  • BHP Billiton rumoured to prepare bid for coal miner
  • ArcelorMittal – Macarthur

Trends & Implications:

  • A potential new takeover by BHP Billiton might be a good moment for BHP to announce writedowns on its acquisitions in the natural gas space. The acquisition of Petrohawk from Chesapeake last year is said to require a significant writedow as gas prices don’t seem to recover. Timing the market and combining the ‘exciting’ news of a takeover in the coal industry might partly overshadow the news of the writedown on the gas assets.
  • The decrease of annual growth of the Chinese economy to single digit numbers is expected to impact construction and manufacturing activity in the short term, but the underlying outlook for the longer term continues to be a shortage of supply. Experts struggle to relate the overall economic growth numbers to short-term growth of construction sector, which drives most of the commodities demand.

©2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining Week 08/’12: GlenStrata’s antitrust & an Indian giant

February 25, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Glencore and Xstrata to seek merger approval in Brussels
    • Despite earlier statements that Xstrata and Glencore would not need to seek approval from the European Commission the parties have now decided to submit their case for approval in Brussels.
    • The companies argue that there is no significant increase in market domination because of the strong ties the companies already had prior to the merger.
    • The European Commission will now have to decide on the potential restrictions to the new company, such as the obligation to sell certain elements of the business. A market density index calculation is used to see whether or not the new company would have a too dominant position. The big uncertainty in this calculation is how the Commission will scope the market or markets the companies are active in.
    • Sources: Wall Street Journal; Financial Times; EU Merger Control Rules
  • Vedanta merges Indian assets to create Indian mining giant: Sesa Sterlite
    • Vedanta has decided to merge all its Indian assets, including Sesa, Sterlite, and Cairns India, into one big Indian company. This new Entity will be named Sesa Sterlite and will have a market capitalization of around $22bln. Vedanta will hold just under 60% of the shares.
    • Sources: Times of India; Economic Times; Vedanta presentation
  • Tavan Tolgoi plans to list in June
    • The Mongolian government plans to list a significant part of Tavan Tolgoi, a large coking coal project in the south of the country, in both London and Hong Kong this summer. Regulatory issues threaten to delay the HKEx listing.
    • The government plans to eventually hold 51% of the shares, give 20% to the population, sell some 10% to local business at a discount, and make the rest available to international investors. A significant part of the 20% given to the population might find its way to international investors.
    • Sources: Wall Street Journal; FOX Business

Trends & Implications:

  • The creation of Sesa Sterlite builds both a second diversified miner with a significant oil & gas business (next to BHP Billiton) and a second diversified miner with a significant interest in zinc (next to Glencore/Xstrata).
  • If Vedanta manages to both make the merger integration of the 7 or more individual companies a success and to manage its investments in other developing countries successfully, it creates the primary candidate to become the stable Indian mining giant. Growth of the Indian industry is phenomenal but faces many challenges. The mixture of a very strong Indian foothold with high growth assets in many other developing countries could prove to be a good basis for risk diversification.

©2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining Week 05/’12: Glencore and Xstrata move towards merger

February 5, 2012 Comments off

What is happening with Glencore and Xstrata?

  • For several years Xstrata and Glencore, with over 30% its largest shareholder, have been linked in rumors of mergers. This week both companies released statements to announce that Glencore has now officially started the merger procedure. As a result Glencore is required to come up with an official proposal by early March. However, analysts expect an agreement to be reached much faster.
  • Glencore is the world’s largest commodity trader and also owns operating assets for several commodities, most notably copper, zinc, and coal.
  • Xstrata is the world’s 4th-largest diversified miner, grown rapidly in the past decade by a series of acquisitions.
  • Last year Glencore became a public company, putting an official market value on the company. This step was seen as a requirement to convince Xstrata’s other shareholders to discuss a merger.

Why does a merger make sense?

  • Although the mining industry only very slowly moves in this direction it makes sense to combine raw material production and marketing and processed goods production and marketing in one company. The vertical control over the value chain provides flexibility to react to sudden opportunities in the global marketplace. The 3 pictures below illustrate Glencore’s view of these arbitrage opportunities: geographical, product, and timing arbitrage. The larger the company is and the more overlap between marketing and production, the larger the rationale for merging. Estimated synergies of the Glencore-Xstrata merger are close to $1bln annually, mainly due to increased revenues (whereas most mining related M&A is driven by cost reducing synergies).

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What could go wrong?

Two important things could make the merger fail. The first could even prevent it from happening at all:

  • 1. Antitrust – Glencore is the absolute market leader in trading of various commodities. Any increase of power in these areas would trigger action by antitrust regulators around the world. To get approved, the deal will have to be structured in a way that ensures both supply substitution and demand substitution; i.e. all market parties should be able to get around Glencore-Xstrata as customer or as supplier.
  • 2. Corporate culture – Glencore is a company built on the two-thousand marketeers & traders, while Xstrata is run like a typical conservative mining company. Traders are typically very smart, aggressive, impatient, rational, office-workers. Miners are ‘roll up your sleeves’, ‘move the dirt’, operational guys with only very few of the highly schooled trading-types among them. To make these two groups of people not only work together smoothly, but to integrate the companies so that departmental interests and emotions are fully aligned with the larger companies objectives is going to be a major challenge, in which many employees from both sides might choose to leave the company to find a place where they are more comfortable.

©2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Glencore reveals mine fatality figures

September 8, 2011 Comments off

“Glencore recorded more deaths at its industrial operations last year than any of the other “big five” London-listed miners. The world’s largest commodities trader listed the deaths of 18 employees and contractors in its first disclosure of safety and environmental information.

Among its closest peers in the mining sector, there were three deaths at Xstrata, three at Rio Tinto, five at BHP Billiton and 14 at Anglo American, according to data published by the companies. Among FTSE 100 mining companies, only Kazakhmys and Vedanta recorded more fatalities with 26 each. Glencore, which raised $10bn (£6bn) in May in one of the largest ever initial public offerings in Europe, has until recently published little information on its industrial and trading operations.”

Source: Financial Times, September 7 2011

Observations:

  • Together with an extensive half-year results report and presentation, Glencore published its first sustainability report this week.
  • Glencore’s fatality frequency rate (FFR: fatalities per million hours worked) was 0.1034 in 2010, down 25% compared to the previous year. The All Injury Frequency Rate for mining activities was 3.45, down 17% from a year earlier.

Implications:

  • The comparison with other large miners as made by the Financial Times is rather shortsighted. Risks at any type of operation are unique and cannot be compared easily. With the nature of Glencore’s assets (Kazzinc, Katanga, Mutanda, Mopani, Los Quenuales, etc.), which are often located in developing countries and/or operated by local companies, it is obviously harder to manage safety than in large centralized operations in Western countries. However, it is a good sign that Glencore reports the figures and indicates it wants to manage safety at a global level.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Glencore to stop reporting quarterly results

July 21, 2011 Comments off

“Glencore has decided to stop reporting its results every quarter, in a move that is likely to soothe tensions with Xstrata, the mining company in which it owns a 34 per cent stake. The commodities trader, which raised $10bn in May in one of Europe’s largest ever initial public offerings, on Thursday offered to pay up to $2.4m to persuade bondholders to approve a change in the conditions of one of its bonds, which would allow it to drop the requirement for quarterly reporting.

Glencore was alone among major London-listed mining companies when it reported first-quarter results last month. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Xstrata all report results only twice a year. ‘Information is not free,’ said Henri Alexaline, credit analyst at BNP Paribas. ‘If there’s one company that understands that, it’s Glencore. In Q1 they gave away free information relative to their peers.’”

Source: Financial Times, July 14 2011

Observations:

  • The major mining houses provide financial reports twice a year and quarterly production reports. BHP Billiton is running out of sync with the others with a fiscal year that ends in June instead of in December.
  • Analysts are using Glencore’s quarterly reports to analyze Xstrata’s quarterly performance, although Xstrata denies to have provided financial information to Glencore since its IPO. Glencore owns 33% of Xstrata’s shares.

Implications:

  • The targeted change of reporting structure would not only save Glencore costs, but could also be interpreted as a step to align with Xstrata’s procedures in order to make a merger of the two companies smoother.
  • The relatively low market valuation of Glencore since the IPO could speed up the merger process, as it would leave Xstrata’s potentially reluctant other shareholders with a larger part of the new company.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Itochu beats rivals to $1.5bln Drummond deal

June 17, 2011 Comments off

“Itochu, the Japanese trading house, has beaten global commodities and mining rivals, including Glencore and Xstrata, to secure a 20 per cent stake in Colombian coal assets owned by Drummond, a family owned US mining company, for $1.52bn. The deal, announced on Thursday, is the clearest sign of the renewed appetite among Japanese traders for thermal coal, the commodity used to fire power stations, as the post-tsunami nuclear crisis threatens the future of electricity generation in the country.

The transaction values the assets at $7.6bn, well above the $6bn that other bidders were prepared to pay, highlighting the rapid appreciation of coal assets driven by strong demand from Asia. China and India have joined traditional buyers such as Japan and South Korea in competing for supplies, which has driven up prices. Berlin’s decision to phase out nuclear power in Germany could also boost demand in Europe. Drummond said that the transaction would give Itochu “rights” to market coal produced in the Colombian mine into Japan.”

Source: Financial Times, June 16 2011

Observations:

  • Last November Glencore was reported to be interested in buying Drummond’s Colombian assets: Mina Pribbenow and El Descanso open-pit coal mines located in the Cesar Coal Basin near La Loma; Puerto Drummond, a deep-water ocean port on the Caribbean Sea near Santa Marta; and coal transportation and handling facilities.
  • Itochu, a Fortune 500 trading company with approx. $150bln annual revenues, hopes to benefit from high prices for steam coal in Japan. It will get the rights to market coal from the Colombian assets, which will still be operated by Drummond, in Japan. Drummond will use the funds from the sale of the 20% ownership of the assets to increase the capacity of the mines.

Implications:

  • After the nuclear crisis in Japan the interest in coal fired power in the country has returned, increasing the market value of steam coal. Itochu is hoping to benefit from this trend in the long term, but will now also benefit from the profitability of the Colombian assets.
  • The ownership stake bought by Itochu does not prevent any other company from buying out Drummond and gain control over the assets. The sale of this stake gives a potential acquirer a clear valuation, which could help to bid for the remaining 80%. To Itochu this would not necessarily be an issue, as long as the contracts to market the coal in Japan are not changed.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Glencore denies acquisition after ENRC board meltdown

June 14, 2011 Comments off

“Commodities trader Glencore (LSE:GLEN.L – News) is not considering a bid for embattled miner ENRC, its chief executive said, dismissing reports of a takeover after it disappointed the market with its maiden first-quarter results. Shares in the world’s largest diversified commodity trader dropped 2 percent as weaker-than-expected results from its metals and mining trading unit held back its operating profit.
Kazakh miner ENRC, with a free float of less than 20 percent, has long been seen as a potential target for Glencore. Industry sources say Glencore could be tempted by its undervalued assets and a heavy fall in the shares as a result of a boardroom spat over its leadership that has seen the departure of two independent directors.
‘Glencore monitors a wide range of opportunities in the sector and will continue to do so,’ Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg told reporters following the company’s results. ‘However, we can confirm that although we talk to a lot of people in the sector, we are not actively considering a bid for ENRC,’ he added.”

Source: Reuters, June 14 2011

Observations:

  • Following a review of ENRC’s governance structure various independent directors and the general counsel have either left or have not been reelected by the majority shareholders. The leaving directors claim that the company is run authocratically and the owners are not willing to open up control.
  • Glencore was rumoured to be interested in launching a takeover for ENRC, which suffers from a depressed shareprice. However, Mr. Glasenberg (Glencore CEO) said the company wasn’t holding any discussions to purchase ENRC when announcing Glencores 1st quarter results.

Implications:

  • A potential acquisition of ENRC by Glencore would only have chance of success if the founders are willing to sell their shares. The Kazakh government is unlikely to sell its stake in the company and the total share of ownership of the 18% free-float and the Kazakhmys share would not enable Glencore to excercise control.
  • Many analysts are trying to figure out which large mining company will be Glencore’s major acquisition target. As long as not further equity is raised the company will be able to make an acquisition up to a value of some $30-40bln. The target should mainly be complementary to Xstrata’s global operations, as it is likely that management of the owned and controlled operations is centralized in the coming years.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Glencore should scale back IPO hopes

May 5, 2011 Comments off

“For Glencore International, it is time for Plan C. Xstrata put the kibosh on Plan A when it refused to consider a merger with the commodities-trading giant that would have enabled Glencore partners to realize the full value of their 34.5% stake in the miner.

Investors now have ruined Plan B by refusing to accept Glencore’s ambitious $60 billion-plus valuation target, which might have allowed a quick post-IPO merger. Glencore has been forced to lower its target and must prepare for a long spell in the public markets.

Glencore’s advisers insist Mr. Glasenberg realizes the need for a realistic price that will allow it to trade healthily in the aftermarket. That would help rebuild investor confidence after the poor start to the IPO. So Glencore’s final IPO price will need to offer investors a generous discount. Mr. Glasenberg should brace himself for a price at the bottom of the range.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, May 5 2011

Observations:

  • The commentators from Wall Street Journal argue that the uncertainty of a potential merger with Xstrata and the politically sensitive nature of Glencore’s mining assets forces the company to offer the shares at a strong discount in the Initial Public Offering (IPO), raising less cash than previously hoped.
  • Glencore is going public to facilitate further growth ambitions. In its current private structure it can not raise sufficient money for further growth. Merging with Xstrata would be an other way to solve this problem, but this requires putting a value on Glencore to decide on the new ownership structure, something Xstrata’s management and shareholders clearly are not willing to do.

Implications:

  • Shares are typically sold at a discount in an IPO, encouraging investors to take a share of the company and realize a paper profit in the first days of trading. However, if shares indeed go up strongly in the first days of trading and market value of Glencore reflects intrinsic value correctly, the WSJ-commentators’ prediction of a difficult negotiation with Xstrata because of skewed valuation does not hold.
  • With current high commodity prices a large part of Glencore’s profit comes from its industrial assets, rather than from trading activities. Citi expects the industrial share to be as high as 60% in the next years. A relatively higher importance of production vs. trading in the company could make integration of Glencore with Xstrata and/or other mining companies smoother.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com