In the hole for $18 billion, Rio Tinto finds buyer for Europe alumina business

Too soon to go all in

Rio Tinto  said on Wednesday that it has a binding offer from a US private investment HIG Capital  to buy Rio Tinto Alcan.

Rio Tinto did not disclose details of the possible deal, but suffice to say that the miner won’t be emerging from its European specialty alumina – extracted from bauxite ore – foray any richer for it.

The world’s number three miner bought Alcan’s business on the continent in 2007 for $38 billion. Even for the heady pre-financial crisis days, that was paying top dollar.

So far the $100 billion Anglo-Australian company has been forced to write off $18.2 billion of the purchase price.

Dow Jones reports the  miner said it is “still committed to investing in the division but has embarked on a restructuring that will result in the sale of 13 aluminum businesses, including refineries and smelters in Australia and Europe.”

Rio Tinto’s ADRs in New York was trading down 2.3% by early afternoon on a generally weak day for the resource sector.

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