Hudbay Minerals Inc. is preparing a sale of a stake in one of the largest copper mines under development in the U.S. as an investor pushes the company to review its portfolio, people familiar with the matter said.
The Toronto-based base metals miner has interviewed potential advisers about selling a 30% stake in the Arizona Rosemont project and is planning to kick off a process in the coming months, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. The stake is likely to draw interest from financial bidders, such as private equity firms, the people said. No final decisions have been made and Hudbay may still decide to keep the asset, they said.
A representative for Hudbay said the company intends to evaluate a variety of options, including the addition of a committed joint venture partner for the Rosemont project, and will carry out the process in parallel with its development this year.
Private equity firm Waterton Global Resource Management, which owns about 12% of Hudbay, has said the company has been mismanaged, spending money on projects that haven’t created shareholder value, and has urged the firm to review its portfolio. In a February presentation, Waterton criticized management’s handling of the Rosemont project, which it said has suffered from delays.
In March, Hudbay agreed to buy out its minority partner in the project and said it would evaluate options including finding a new investor, with the goal of ultimately owning about 70%. Hudbay agreed to make an upfront payment of $45 million, plus three annual payments of $10 million to buy out United Copper & Moly LLC’s 7.95% interest.
Hudbay also said that month that it had received a key permit to continue work on the mine. The wait in getting the “404 Water Permit” from the U.S. Army Corps had drawn criticism from Waterton.
The Rosemont project, which Hudbay acquired in 2014, is expected to be the third largest copper producer in the U.S., accounting for about 10% of the country’s total copper production, according to the company’s website.
Hudbay and Waterton struck a deal this month that led the miner’s chairman, Alan Hibben, to step down. Hudbay also agreed to elect three of the investor’s nominees to the board.
(By Dinesh Nair and Scott Deveau)