In the M&A hall of shame, Rio Tinto’s top-of-the-market $37bn acquisition of Alcan (in CASH) is right up there. In this century, at least.
It was a truly disastrous deal that nearly killed the Anglo-Australian mining company and its after-effects are being felt to this day. Just ask Tom Albanese. Read more
Implied copper volatility has risen sharply over the past month, according to Goldman Sachs:
…not that the levels are in any way unprecedented. Read more
There’s an enlightening interview with Oleg Deripaska, chief executive of Rusal, in the Telegraph this Monday (h/t Neil Hume).
Turns out the metal tycoon believes aluminium may do better than expected this year, largely because much of the excess capacity that has plagued the industry has finally been cut back. Read more
John Kemp at Thomson Reuters has pointed us in the direction of colleague Clara Ferreira-Marques’ piece on the likely repercussions of Rio Tinto’s $14bn revaluation of aluminium and coal assets last week. As she notes, it’s almost certain that Rio Tinto’s hit will now set the stage for a wave of writedowns across the industry. Read more
Nothing short of an RNS fit for framing from Rio Tinto this Thursday morning:
Rio Tinto expects to recognise a non-cash impairment charge of approximately US$14 billion (post tax) in its 2012 full year results. These impairments include an amount of approximately US$3 billion relating to Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique (RTCM), as well as reductions in the carrying values of Rio Tinto’s aluminium assets (mostly Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) but also Pacific Aluminium) in the range of US$10-11 billion. The Group also expects to report a number of smaller asset write-downs in the order of US$500 million. The final figures will be included in Rio Tinto’s full year results on 14 February 2013.
It could be that a major commodity story is about to go mainstream.
We are, of course, talking about the issue of financialised commodity inventory and the impact it has had on the supply and demand picture, by taking inventory off-market and off-balance sheet. Read more
When the chief executive of UC Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, takes to the pages of the FT to air his frustrations about his industry, you’ve got to sit up and listen. Especially when he concludes that output caps are needed to overcome the problems.
Rusal, of course, is one of the world’s top aluminium producers and Deripaska, it turns out, wants output caps because he is worried about the strange anomalies which are gripping his market. Read more
Here’s a bearish take on what the post-stimulus, rebalancing Chinese economy will mean for demand of steel, copper and aluminium:
Adjusting to a new paradigm: We see a no/low growth scenario off what is now a very high base level of demand as a realistic rather than a disaster scenario Read more
Sean Corrigan at Diapason Commodities has sent us another fascinating chart. It shows the hot money inflows into China which are unaccounted for by the sum of the trade balance, FDI, interest earned and FX revaluations.
That’s to say there’s still a large chunk of inflows left over after all of the above is considered, the volumes of which happen to correlate very nicely with changes in the combined aluminum, copper and zinc (and lead from 2011 onwards) stocks of Shanghai and the LME. Read more
Alcoa, one of the world’s largest aluminium companies, has highlighted the impact of the European debt crisis on corporate profits, reporting its first quarterly loss on an underlying basis since 2009 and announcing plant closures and cutbacks in Italy and Spain, reports the FT. It also warned that the outlook for Europe “remains soft”. Opening the earnings season for US companies, Alcoa reported a $239m pre-tax loss for the fourth quarter, compared with a $348m profit for the equivalent period of 2010, as revenues were squeezed by falling aluminium prices. The loss included a $159m restructuring charge for the cost of shutting down 12 per cent of worldwide smelting capacity either permanently or temporarily, a move announced last week as part of the company’s drive to cut costs. Read more
The highly anticipated third-quarter earnings season got under way with a whimper when Alcoa ’s shares sank in the wake of its disappointing results, the FT reports. The aluminium company fell 2.4 per cent to $10.05 after reporting earnings per share of 15 cents after the market closed on Tuesday, well below the average forecast of 22 cents from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. But the stock still remains slightly up for the week, with analysts blaming the results on foreign currency transactions rather than operating losses. “Translation adjustments accounted for a good portion of the miss,” Fraser Phillips, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets wrote to clients. “A weak result but not as bad as it looks,” he added. Analysts were also cheered that the company maintained its aluminium demand forecast for the year, with higher demand from China expected to offset weaker demand from Europe. Read more
Aluminium company Alcoa opened the US corporate earnings season with disappointing results for the third quarter, reporting profits below consensus expectations, the FT reports. Earnings per share were 15 cents for the third quarter, up from 6 cents in the equivalent period of 2010, but down 28 cents from the second quarter, and well below the average forecast of 22 cents from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Chief executive Klaus Kleinfield said confidence appeared to be more of a problem than actual demand, and insisted that “the world is not the same” as when it plunged into the downturn of 2008-09, with strong physical aluminium markets and total global demand still growing. However, he said that growth was slowing sharply in the second half of the year, and regional demand was falling outright compared with the first half in North America, Europe and Brazil. The results helped push Asian shares lower, says Reuters. Read more
Alcoa, the integrated aluminium producer, reported that its second-quarter earnings more than doubled and expressed confidence in its outlook despite recent weakness in metal prices, the FT reports. Kicking off the North American second-quarter reporting season, Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa’s chief executive, described the economic recovery as “uneven”, but said the outlook for the company and for the aluminium industry as a whole remained positive. Net income for the second quarter totalled $322m, or 28 cents a share, up from $136m, or 13 cents, a year earlier. Income from continuing operations, excluding special charges, totalled $364m, or 32 cents a share. Revenues grew by 27 per cent from a year earlier to $6.6bn. Read more
FT Alphaville noted a couple of weeks ago how backlogs at London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses in Detroit were seeing some market participants have to wait up to 10 months to receive their aluminium.
We also noted that an independent study into the LME’s warehousing network had recommended upping load-out rates, to try and deal with some of these issues. Read more
The commodities world knew Glencore was the biggest market participant, but few were aware until now of the true scale of the Switzerland-based company’s operations, according to the FT. As Glencore announced on Thursday its intention to become a public company, it revealed some of its most closely guarded secrets: the dominant market share of its vast trading activities. In some cases, including zinc and copper, Glencore told investors it controls more than half of the so-called third party market. Glencore disclosed that it controls 45 per cent of the third-party lead market, 38 per cent in alumina, and between 30 and 20 per cent for aluminium, cobalt and thermal coal. It has a smaller market share for nickel, ferrochrome, oil and grains. The sheer dominance of raw materials trading is set to play into Glencore’s favour as it pushes for a 15-20 per cent stake sale worth $9bn-$11bn in London and Hong Kong. Read more
Alcoa has signed financing deals worth $1.9bn with Maaden, Saudi Arabia’s mining giant, for the first phase of a joint $10.8m aluminium project in Saudia Arabia Reuters reports. Maaden said that 16 institutions provided the funds for the project, believed to include BNP Paribas, Export Development Canada and Standard Chartered, according to sources. Maaden and Alcoa plan to sign further financing deals, bringing the total to $4.5bn, to finance the project which they say will be the world’s largest fully integrated aluminium complex. Read more
Last week was London Metal Exchange week.
And it turns out, the topic of debate, according to Société Générale’s cross-asset research analysts at least, was nothing other than the upcoming splurge of physically-backed commodity ETFs that’s about to hit the market. Read more
A recent report emphasising the role of a single trade in causing the May 6 stock market flash crash may have ignored the broader underlying causes behind volatility in the market, the WSJ reports. Market participants want more focus on data-feed issues, stub quote abuse, and algorithmic trading, the Journal adds. They might do better to focus on continued signs of mini flash crashes in the market — Monday’s mystery coming courtesy of a fast sudden drop in Century Aluminium, FT Alphaville notes — while observing that market-making desks as one broad factor in the market had little to do with May’s events. Read more
First there was the flash crash.
Then there were mini flash crashes. Read more
Chalco, the second-largest aluminium producer, has pulled out of a A$3bn deal to develop a bauxite refinery in Australia, blaming a drop in aluminium prices and difficult global conditions, the FT reported. This would have been the first Australian investment for the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Chinese state-owned Aluminium Corporation of China and comes after its parent’s offer to inject $19.5bn into Rio Tinto last year was turned down. Read more
The Justice Department asked a federal court to halt a civil lawsuit filed against Japanese commodities-trading giant Sojitz Group, citing the government’s own criminal bribery probe, the WSJ reported. According the WSJ story, ‘the lawsuit was filed in December by Bahrain’s state-owned aluminum producer, Aluminum Bahrain BSC, known as Alba… [and] alleged Sojitz paid Alba employees nearly $15m in bribes over 13 years to gain discounts on aluminum prices.’ Read more
Norsk Hydro has agreed to buy the aluminium assets of Vale, the Brazilian metals and mining group, in a $4.9bn deal that willsecure the Norwegian company’s raw material supplies for decades, the FT says. The move will give Norsk Hydro control of Paragominas, the world’s third-biggest bauxite mine, as well as Vale’s alumina refining and aluminium production facilities in Brazil. Read more
The US has launched a probe into Chinese exports of aluminium products, although no decision is imminent on whether to include the country’s exchange rate policy in its inquiry. The investigation, announced by the commerce department, will unfold over the next few months, with an initial determination scheduled for May 17, the FT said. Read more
Why would a Russian aluminium producer be interested in launching an exchange-traded fund business? The background here is that Rusal announced last week that it would provide further details of a possible physical ETF to be backed by 1m tonnes of metal in the second half of this year. The move is intriguing since, as every aluminium market watcher knows, the world is currently awash with aluminium. More analysis on FT Alphaville. Read more