Rio Tinto apologises to shareholders over Alcan

Mining giant Rio Tinto offered shareholders an apology for its ill-fated takeover of Alcan in 2007, "but urged them to not overlook the good work being undertaken at the company," reported Peter Ker for The Age Business Day Friday.

Speaking to shareholders at the annual conference in London, Jan du Plessis provided a sober résumé of the deal that led to nearly $30 billion in impairments:

"In hindsight, this project was not only badly timed at the top of the market, but major structural changes over the last year or two have put the global aluminium industry under tremendous pressure…in retrospect, we therefore have to acknowledge that the acquisition has had a significant negative impact on shareholder value and, as our owners, you have every right to expect that we do better."

The company will hope to get things up and running at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia in order to turn the corner in a year that has already seen $14 billion in new impairments.

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