Rusal eyes Anglo?

Gilbertson is incoming chairman of “United Company Rusal”, which will become the world’s largest aluminium producer, once the merger between Sual, of which Gilbertson is president, Russian aluminium competitor Rusal and private Swiss commodities trader Glencore takes place.

The merged entity would be in the mould of diversified mining giant BHP Billiton, which Gilbertson was instrumental in creating in 2001, reports The Times.

Rumours of an Anglo takeover have been rife, but until recently, the main suspects have been Rio Tinto, Xstrata (in which Glencore is a major shareholder) and BHP Billiton.

“Sources in Moscow have told The Times that Gilbertson is stepping up Rusal’s expansion plans and is targeting Anglo American for a bid next year,” wrote the Times.

The Times said that the enlarged Rusal has borrowing capacity of $15bn and will use this to reverse into Anglo, giving Rusal the listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Gilbertson became CE of Gencor in 1994 and set about unbundling that company. Companies unbundled included Engen, Malbak, Sappi, Gensec and later, Gengold and Impala Platinum.

Gencor acquired Billiton in 1996-7 and in 2001, merged with BHP. Gilbertson quit as CE of BHP Billiton at the end of 2002. He joined Indian resources group Vedanta, but was dropped from the board in 2004 after he was approached by Sual.

Gilbertson is one of the world’s highest-paid mining executives. The Rusal deal could earn him as much as ‘100m, Britain’s Sunday Times reported. If he were to head Anglo American, shareholders may welcome the move; the group has under-performed its rivals BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto in recent years.

Anglo differs from BHP Billiton and Rio in that it does not own outright many of its assets, such as AngloGold, Anglo Platinum and Tongaat Hullet, each of which is separately listed on the JSE. By contrast the model at BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto is to own, wherever possible, 100 percent of an asset, to control cash flows from the centre of the group.

Recently, Anglo signalled its intention to sell non-core assets. It has agreed to sell its steel-and-vanadium business Highveld to Russia’s Evraz and has plans to list its paper and packaging division Mondi this year. ‘ Mineweb.

October 2006
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