Freeport CEO says miner not actively looking to sell itself soon

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. isn’t looking to sell itself right now, says Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson.

“I certainly don’t consider it to be something that we would look at in the near term given our share price,” Adkerson told analysts Wednesday on Freeport’s third-quarter earnings conference call. “We’re going to be open to opportunities for our shareholders as they evolve in the future.”

Earlier this month, Adkerson said any strategic move would be possible — as long as it’s in the best interests of shareholders — after the world’s largest publicly traded copper producer cedes majority control of its Grasberg mine in Indonesia to local interests. That complicated transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this year or the beginning of 2019. On Wednesday, Adkerson said his previous remarks were “a stock answer” that he has given for years.

Despite forecasts that the global copper market is headed to annual supply deficits, prices of the red metal have declined this year amid concern trade tensions may affect global demand. Freeport’s shares have also dropped in 2018, also partly because of uncertainty about when the Grasberg issues will be resolved.

Trade tensions are prompting mining companies to defer investments in new projects and “that will add to this impending supply gap situation for the industry,” Adkerson said. He also referred to uncertainty in the copper market and said Freeport is delaying new investments until there’s more clarity.

(By Laura Millan Lombrana)