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Russian miner bids for AngloGold

Section: Daily Dispatches

Russians Covet AngloGold

By John Waples
The Times, London
Sunday, February 18, 2007

Russia's Polyus Gold, which is preparing for a London listing, has approached Anglo American to buy its £2.25 billion stake in another mining company, AngloGold Ashanti.

If this were to happen, it would turn Polyus into one of the world's most powerful gold producers. Polyus has indicated it would like to buy part or all of the stake.

One option under consideration is for Anglo American, which owns 41 percent of AngloGold, to take a minority stake in an enlarged company. Tony Trahar, Anglo American's outgoing chief executive, has made it clear the group's entire stake in the South African gold company is up for sale. Polyus is one of several companies that have made approaches to buy it.

The sale forms part of Anglo American's strategic plan to sell noncore assets. The other big asset being offloaded by the mining giant is Mondi, its paper-and-packaging business which, including debt, is worth some £4 billion. The intention was to demerge this, with a primary listing on the London stock market.

The proposal has met resistance from South African-based investors and the country's treasury department. To pacify these concerns Trahar has now quietly put forward a new proposal to conduct a dual listing of Mondi shares in London and Johannesburg. Sir John Parker has already been recruited as chairman and if the dual listing is acceptable the float could take place in the middle of this year.

Anglo American's big rivals, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, have both looked hard at whether a takeover of the company is feasible. This speculation has resulted in a huge outperformance in Anglo's shares that has in effect put it out of reach.

Analysts say that Anglo has head room to increase borrowings and finance a large acquisition. The group could be debt-free within four months.

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