Glencore delays closing of Xstrata merger, faces claims of aiding Iran nuclear program
Glencore (LON:GLEN) and Xstrata (LON:XTA) announced Friday they have, once again, extended the deadline for closing their long-awaited $80 billion merger, scrapping March 15 as a target due to continuing discussion with Chinese authorities.
The world’s largest commodities trader said more details about the pending deal will be revealed next Tuesday, when it announces its preliminary results for 2012.
For over a year now international investors have been following the story of this deal unfold, but an exclusive report published by Reuters today could change the expected outcome.
According the news agency, Glencore supplied thousands of tons of alumina to an Iranian company that has provided aluminum, a key ingredient in the manufacture of tubes used in uranium enrichment centrifuges, aiding Iran's nuclear program.
A diplomatic source allegedly showed Reuters a "Western intelligence report" describing how Glencore "provided Iralco [Iranian Aluminum Co.] with thousands of tons of alumina last year in exchange for a lesser amount of aluminum metal. The report's authenticity was confirmed by U.N. diplomats."
Although Reuters clarified it does not know whether any of the raw alumina sent to Iran was actually used to make the aluminum tubes, it does claim that the terms of the deal imply that for every five tons of alumina supplied by Glencore, the trading house received just one ton of finished aluminum. Typically it takes just two tons of alumina to make one ton of aluminum. So the big question is where the rest went.
Glencore acknowledged the deal was struck in August 2011 and said it first learned of a relationship between Iralco and Iran's nuclear centrifuge maker in December of 2012 and stopped further shipments immediately. The last actual shipment was made in October 2012, said the commodities trader.
Jake Greenberg, mining specialist at investment bank Jefferies in London, told FT.com (subs. required) today's delay was a “minor setback”, adding: “We do not think the Chinese have any reason to block the deal.”
That was before Reuters' report.
Although is unlikely the news have much impact on China’s decision, analysts believe the Asian country could use the Iranian deal to wring out a concession or two from Glencore in exchange for the Chinese final blessing.
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