Glencore to sell entire stake in SMI to Indophil

Edwin G. Espejo

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Glencore to sell entire stake in SMI to Indophil
This also paves the way for the complete exit of the Switzerland-based Glencore Plc from the $5.6-billion controversial copper and gold project of Sagittarius Mines in Tampakan, South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Commodities trader Glencore Plc has reportedly agreed to sell its entire stake at Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) to Indophil Resources NL.

This development followed the January completion of the sale of Indophil to Alsons Prime Investment Corporation. (READ: Alsons to take over Australia’s Indophil PH)

This also paves way for the complete exit of the Switzerland-based Glencore Plc from the $5.6-billion copper and gold project of SMI in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

It also ended several months of uncertainty about Glencore’s plans for the controversial mining project that is being opposed by the Catholic Church, environmental groups, and the New People’s Army. (READ: Indigenous groups: Solve Tampakan mine issues)

Glencore said it has already informed the Australian Stock Exchange (ASE) of the planned sale of its SMI shares.

Glencore owns 62.5% of SMI while Alson controls the remaining 37.5% by virtue of its acquisition of Indophil.

The share sale agreement between Glencore and Indophil includes “a number of conditions” which must be completed before June 30.

No details of the sale were disclosed.

Indophil Resources NL of Australia became a wholly Filipino-owned company effective January 13 when it delisted from ASE, following the approval of its sale to Alsons in a stockholders meeting in December.

Alsons then was backed by Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings, which earlier appointed Frederic DyBuncio as member of Indophil’s board of directors. Nicasio Alcantara represented the Alsons group.

Also owning minority shares in SMI are San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon Ang and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company’s Manuel V. Pangilinan.

The deal was valued at AU$361 million (P14.3 billion) paid in cash.

With the Glencore’s reported sale of its stakes to Indophil, SMI becomes a wholly-owned Filipino mining company, although Indophil continues to be a “foreign-listed” company.

There was no immediate statement from Alsons.

But Gavan Collery, vice president for corporate affairs of Indophil, said Glencore is divesting all its shares in SMI.

“100%,” he said in a text message.

Controversial project

SMI exploration and operations ground to a halt several months after Glencore acquired the majority stake in the mining firm from erstwhile majority holder Xstrata Plc when the commodities firm openly expressed reluctance to finance “greenfield’ projects.

Xstrata has reportedly spent over $350 million while the project was still at the development and exploration stage.

The Tampakan project never went beyond exploration stage.

In 2013, SMI “downgraded” its operations, largely confined to maintaining community presence and skeletal office manpower, after it failed to obtain the critical nod of the provincial government of South Cotabato for its Tampakan project. (READ: SMI has fallen on hard times)

It laid off more close to 1,000 workers and employees in the last quarter of 2013 following the decision of Glencore to downscale its operations in Tampakan. –

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