Rio Tinto to resume European aluminium assets sale

11 October 2018 (Last Updated October 11th, 2018 12:22)

Rio Tinto is reportedly set to resume the divestment of its European aluminium assets after a $345m deal with Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro fell through last month.

Rio Tinto is reportedly set to resume the divestment of its European aluminium assets after a $345m deal with Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro fell through last month.

French investment bank Natixis is working on finding a buyer for the assets, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source.

The assets being considered for sale include Rio Tinto’s ISAL aluminium smelter in Iceland, and a 53.3% stake in Dutch anode facility Aluminium & Chemie Rotterdam (Aluchemie).

In addition, the proposed sale includes a 50% share in a Swedish aluminium fluoride plant Alufluor.

Norsk Hydro annulled the transaction to acquire the assets, citing a delay in securing approval of the European Commission for the deal. The company made a binding offer for the acquisition in February this year.

Industry sources told the news agency that the European Commission may have kept the approval on hold due to competition concerns, as Hydro already holds a leading position in the aluminium industry.

According to Reuters, Iceland largely depends on hydropower and geothermal energy for its electricity needs and hence companies looking to generate power from sustainable sources could show interest in Rio’s ISAL aluminium plant.

“The European Commission may have kept the approval on hold due to competition concerns.”

In January this year, Rio Tinto reached an agreement to offload its Aluminium Dunkerque smelter in northern France to Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House for $500m. Liberty House also purchased the miner’s Lochaber smelter and other assets in Scotland in December 2016.

Earlier this month, Hydro announced that it will terminate production at its Brazilian alumina refinery following an ongoing dispute with authorities over pollution issues.

However, the company reached a deal earlier this week with environmental agency of the Brazilian state of Pará to resume production at 50% capacity.