Grupo Mexico, Hudbay vie for $2 billion Spanish miner

Magdalena mine. Credit: Matsa

Conglomerate Grupo Mexico SAB and Canada’s Hudbay Minerals Inc. are among final bidders competing to acquire a Spanish copper miner from Trafigura Group, people with knowledge of the matter said. 

The parties made binding offers last week for Minas de Aguas Tenidas, which is known as Matsa and could fetch about $2 billion, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Grupo Mexico, which could make the purchase through its listed mining unit Southern Copper Corp., is seen as a strong contender for the business, the people said. 

Hudbay is working with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which would provide funding to the Canadian miner for the potential acquisition, the people said. 

Shares of Hudbay jumped as much as 7.7% in U.S. trading Wednesday. They were up 1% at 11:49 a.m. in New York. Southern Copper shares gained as much as 2.3%, bucking the 0.9% decline in the MSCI World Metals & Mining Index.

Trafigura, one of the world’s biggest commodity traders, and Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. have been looking to sell Matsa since the start of the year, Bloomberg News has reported. Deliberations are ongoing, and a winning bidder hasn’t been chosen yet, the people said. 

The sale process comes after copper prices hit a record high earlier this year. The world’s biggest miners are universally bullish on the metal, expecting a surge in demand as the global economy decarbonizes, while long-term supply looks constrained by the lack of new mine development.

Matsa also attracted interest from Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-biggest miner, though the company is seen as a less likely buyer, the people said. 

Representatives for Grupo Mexico, OTPP, Rio and Trafigura declined to comment. A spokesperson for Hudbay said the company has a disciplined growth strategy with stringent strategic criteria, declining to comment further. Representatives for Southern Copper and Mubadala didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Matsa owns the Agua Tenidas, Sotiel and Magdalena mines in southern Spain, which produce copper, zinc and lead concentrates. Trafigura sold a 50% stake in Matsa to Mubadala in 2015 as part of plans to team up on base-metals investments. Mubadala paid about $500 million for the stake, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.

(By Dinesh Nair and Thomas Biesheuvel, with assistance from Joe Deaux, Michael O’Boyle and Andy Hoffman)


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