Anglo American to split group after rejecting BHP bid

A cow is seen near the Anglo American sign board outside the Mogalakwena platinum mine in Limpopo province in this file photo. Photo: Reuters

A cow is seen near the Anglo American sign board outside the Mogalakwena platinum mine in Limpopo province in this file photo. Photo: Reuters

Published May 14, 2024


Anglo American said on Tuesday it would offload steelmaking coal, diamond and platinum businesses and focus on critical minerals as it fights off a massive takeover bid by Australian rival BHP.

After rejecting an improved takeover offer worth £34 billion (R792 bn) from BHP, which had hoped to create a copper titan, Anglo said it was accelerating plans to simplify the group and reward shareholders in a "radical" revamp.

"Following completion of the asset review initiated during 2023, Anglo American plans to implement a number of major structural changes to accelerate delivery against its strategic priorities of operational excellence, portfolio simplification, and growth," a statement said one day after news of the takeover rejection.

Anglo CEO Duncan Wanblad added that "a radically simpler business would deliver sustainable incremental value creation through a step change in operational performance and cost reduction.

"Anglo American's shareholders will see the full undiluted upside from these extensive changes, with the value of our copper and iron ore assets brought to the fore," he said.

Copper is essential to the world's transition to renewable energy because it is a vital component for greener technology like energy storage, electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines.

The price of copper has soared over the past year as a result and Anglo American expects the trend to continue.

Copper last month surpassed $10000 (R184207) per ton for the first time in two years, with analysts citing strong demand and tight supplies that could be stretched further by BHP's bid proposal.

Anglo on Tuesday said it planned to offload its steelmaking coal arm and was exploring plans to divest the nickel operations.

It added that Anglo American Platinum would be demerged and that the De Beers diamond business would either be split or sold.

Anglo is the world's biggest producer of platinum.

'Radical changes'

"These actions represent the most radical changes to Anglo American in decades," Wanblad added.

"We are taking clear and decisive action to deliver value... in the long term interests of our shareholders and other stakeholders."

Anglo had said that the BHP offer "significantly" undervalued the group and its prospects.

The new bid was pitched at approximately £27.53 per share, up from about £25 per share that had been slammed by Anglo as "highly unattractive" and "opportunistic" in April.

Shares in Anglo slid 2.9 percent to £26.29 in London morning deals on Tuesday.

Anglo's stock had been boosted since the initial approach as traders bet on a possible bidding war with other mining giants like Glencore or Rio Tinto.

South African concerns

Anglo American was founded in South Africa in 1917 by the German-born industrialist Ernest Oppenheimer, 15 years after his arrival and a career in London.

It is now one of the largest mining companies in the world and is listed on stock exchanges both in London, where it is based, and Johannesburg.

BHP's offer, which proposed Anglo American hiving off its platinum and iron ore production activities in South Africa, caused a stir in the country just before the tightest general election in decades.

Some analysts and opposition politicians viewed such a proposal as an indictment of the decline of South Africa's mining sector and how foreign investors see the country.

Reacting to Tuesday's update, South Africa's largest trade union federation, Cosatu, welcomed Anglo's "professed" commitment to the country, saying it hoped this would be accompanied by an increase in investments.

"We need a commitment that whatever changes Anglo plans includes the needs of its loyal employees," said the union, which had expressed concern at BHP's proposed takeover.

"This must include a commitment not to retrench as well as a commitment to invest in mining communities heavily affected by the impact of mines and pollution."