The Strategist

Rio Tinto says goodbye to steam coal

04/13/2017 - 15:51

Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto is close to quitting the steam coal business. The company received a permission from the Australian regulator for foreign investment to sell majority of its coal mines for $ 2.45 billion to a company controlled by Chinese Yanzhou Coal Mining, Bloomberg reports.

Stephen Codrington
Stephen Codrington
The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approved the transaction, after which the world's second largest mining company will have only two coal mines in the country. 

Both Rio, and Yancoal Australia Ltd. require approval from shareholders, the companies expect the deal to be completed in the third quarter of 2017.

"Today's FIRB approval is a positive step forward for Yancoal, its shareholders and Hunter Valley, demonstrating continued support of the Australian government to the local resources sector," said Yancoal CEO Reinhold Schmidt in a statement on Thursday.

The deal is the first major transaction of Rio under the management of Jean-Sébastien Jacques, CEO. The agreement may further stimulate other acquisitions in Australia involving Asian companies. 

Foreign investment remains a sensitive problem in the country, after Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison last year approved a proposal of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing and Chinese state-owned company Grid Corp to buy state-owned energy company Ausgrid.

Li now hopes to buy Duet Group for 7.4 billion Australian dollars. Another Asian company, Hong Kong Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd., intends to acquire Alinta Energy Holdings Ltd. for 4 billion Australian dollars. Both acquisitions must be approved by the FIRB.

Net profit of one of the world's largest mining companies, Australian-British Rio Tinto Group, attributable to its shareholders, reached 4.617 billion dollars against a loss of 866 million a year earlier as of the end of 2016.

The indicator, however, was lower than the forecasts of analysts who expected it at the level of 5.18 billion dollars, writes The Wall Street Journal.

Diluted earnings per share amounted to $ 2,553 against a loss of $ 0.475 after the end of 2015. Operating profit increased 1.9 times to 6.795 billion dollars. Consolidated sales revenue decreased by 3%, or $ 33.781 billion. The company explains this dynamic by a lower average cost of commodities than in 2015.

"Today's results show that we remained committed to maximizing (assets in the form of) cash and productivity growth ... we are entering 2017 in a good shape," - said Rio Tinto’s Head Jean-Sebastien Jacques.