Breakingviews

Freeport-McMoRan leaves Carl Icahn lots of targets

August 28, 2015

Big cuts in spending and staff sent the struggling miner’s stock soaring – just before the activist revealed an 8.5 pct stake. The pre-emptive strike won’t be enough to satisfy the feisty billionaire. High debt and low commodity prices suggest he has asset sales in his crosshairs.

Miners’ dividends are a fragile commodity

August 25, 2015

BHP Billiton has raised its payout even as prices fall. That helps win investor support for its aggressive iron ore production strategy. Yet across the sector, funding generous payouts will become tough unless supply and demand rebalance. There is little to suggest they will.

Glencore tripped up by faith in rational markets

August 19, 2015

The commodity trader’s earnings have disappointed as copper and coal have tumbled. Anticipating the market is getting harder because both rivals’ behaviour and Chinese demand for raw materials are even more unpredictable. Glencore is thus focusing on what it can control: cash.

Review: Congo’s problems run deeper than oil

November 21, 2014

Virunga Park sits on top of reserves and between hostile states inhabited by warring militias. A new documentary casts UK oil firm Soco as the park’s top threat. Unethical exploiters are just one symptom of a nation whose institutions are too weak to assure economic stability.

Glencore Rio takeover would be harder than Xstrata

October 7, 2014

Ivan Glasenberg’s miner-trader is stalking $90 billion iron giant Rio Tinto. Though there’s some logic to a deal, Glencore will be loath to pay much of a premium, and the clash of cultures would be extreme. Rio is also in a better position to resist than rival Xstrata in 2012.

Rio Tinto can dig in against Glencore

October 7, 2014

The miner’s shares leapt after it admitted rebuffing the commodity trading giant. Yet the timing is opportunistic, as iron ore slumps, and a $160 bln merger looks suspiciously like a takeover on the cheap. So Rio’s board can justifiably demand a big premium, or no deal.

BHP spin-off won’t appeal to commodity players

August 19, 2014

The mining giant plans to hive off some assets into a new company. The prices of nickel and aluminium, two of its key products, are rising. Investors could use the new firm to follow the trends. But they probably won’t. There are purer plays and better-diversified producers.

Rio Tinto takes bold step into Aluminum rehab

October 17, 2011

Rio Tinto has taken a bold step into aluminum rehab. The mining giant plans to sell off roughly a third of its business in the metal, most of which was acquired in a disastrously expensive merger with Canada's Alcan in July 2007.

De Beers buyout adds polish to Anglo American

November 7, 2011

The miner is paying the Oppenheimer family a reasonable $5.1 bln to take majority control of De Beers, the world’s top diamond producer. It’s another step to a streamlined Anglo, making it look like a more straightforward takeover target.

Glencore-Xstrata would be big, and perhaps better

By Edward Hadas
February 3, 2012

There’s industrial logic to a tie-up: Glencore’s production assets would move Xstrata to mining’s top league; Xstrata’s would give Glencore’s trading arm an edge. But the cultural combination is risky. If Glencore didn’t already own 34 pct of Xstrata, a deal would be less likely.