Chilean court denies Codelco bid to freeze Anglo American's dividends

Diversified miner Anglo American Plc. (LON:AAL) announced today the 14th Civil Court of Santiago has rejected state copper giant Codelco's latest petition to freeze 49% of the dividends paid by the Sur Division of the London-based miner.

Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, filed the request on April 17, without giving notice to Anglo or its appointed lawyers,  the company said in a statement. However, the Chilean civil court said it could not justify imposing an embargo on Anglo.

The copper producer’s move marks the first time that the dispute between the two companies has threatened to impact Anglo’s business directly.

The diversified miner added Codelco’s attempt sought to install a court appointee into Anglo's business in Chile. It said the petition pursued to "improperly interfere" with the operation of its business interests in the South American country.

The bitter conflict between the companies goes back to November last year, when Codelco decided to exercise an option and Anglo American responded by selling a 24.5% stake in its southern Chilean division to Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. for $5.39 billion. By doing this, Anglo undermined plans by Codelco to exercise its option, something that the copper miner would only have been able to do in January.

A failed attempt by Codelco to force Mitsubishi to hand over the particulars of the deal in December drove the Chilean company back to the courts by formally informing Anglo American that it was “exercising its legal option” to buy the contested 49% in Anglo Sur.

Anglo American is one of Chile’s largest foreign investors.