Vale weighs IPO of metals unit after sale of 10% stake

Refinery in Sudbury, Ontario. (Image courtesy of Vale.)

Vale SA is considering a spinoff or initial public offering of its sprawling base metals business after it completes the sale of a minority stake, according to people familiar with the situation.

The Brazilian mining giant is in talks to sell a 10% stake in the unit and expects final bids in that process to be submitted by mid-April, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Once the transaction is completed, Vale will likely list the unit or spin it off in 2024, the person said.

The company has approached Mark Cutifani, a former chief executive officer of Anglo American Plc, about becoming chair of the base metals business, the people said. Vale is also considering other options and there’s no guarantee Cutifani will be offered the job or accept it, according to the people. There is also no guarantee the listing or spinoff will go ahead, they said.

Vale declined to comment.

Vale, which makes most of its money from iron ore, has spent years trying to unlock what it sees as hidden value within its copper and nickel mines in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia. Demand for the battery metals is set to boom as the world moves away from fossil fuels.

General Motors Co., Mitsui & Co. and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund are weighing offers for the 10% stake, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier. Automakers are among Vale’s main clients as they try to secure access to strategically important metals amid a shift to electric vehicles. Vale is already a direct supplier for Tesla Inc. and GM, and it has signed Ford Motor Co. as one of its partners to jointly develop a nickel project in Indonesia.

Cutifani, who left Anglo last year after almost a decade in charge, led the mining company through one of the most tumultuous periods in its more than 100-year history. It was on the brink of collapse in 2015 due to high debt levels and a collapse in commodities prices. He then oversaw a dramatic recovery as prices for many of the products it mines rose to a record, and he positioned Anglo for growth.

Cutifani previously managed Vale’s Sudbury operations when he was chief operating officer of Inco Ltd., the Canadian miner acquired by Vale.

(By Dinesh Nair and Thomas Biesheuvel, with assistance from Mariana Durao)


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