from Commentaries:

If Xstrata is to shut up on Anglo it should say so

SWITZERLAND/Only a week to go before decision time and it looks increasingly as though Xstrata boss Mick Davis has already made up his mind and opted to walk away from making a formal bid for mining rival Anglo American.

Reuters correspondent Raji Menon quotes an unnamed top-10 shareholder in Xstrata saying: "They have pretty much indicated to us that they will be walking away".


This makes sense -- nothing has changed since Xstrata got a "put up or shut up" notice from the UK's Takeover Panel, giving it until October 20 to make a formal offer or walk away for six months.

If Xstrata has indeed made up its mind, it should waste no time in telling investors that it has no plans to make an offer. Why wait?

X-raying Xstrata

Xstrata is different from most other major mining companies. Rather than being a long established group with strong links to a particular country, such as Australia for Rio and BHP, South Africa for Anglo American, or Brazil for Vale, it is a relative upstart with few ties to any particular territory, aside from its tax inspired domicile, Switzerland.

The group’s culture might seem innocuous but it is important, particularly when Xstrata has this week proposed a “merger of equals” with South African stalwart Anglo American. Unlike many of its rivals, Xstrata’s raison d’etre is doing deals, led by raucous chief executive Mick Davis.

The company floated in March 2002 with an initial value of £2 billion. Since then, a number of transformational acquisitions such as the $19 billion purchase of Falconbridge, and the recovery in global commodity prices, has meant the group is now valued at £20 billion. At its record high last year, when it tried to buy platinum producer Lonmin, it was worth £67 billion.