TORONTO, VANCOUVER and LONDON (England) — Teck Resources Ltd., Canada’s second-biggest mining company, is among the remaining bidders for Rio Tinto Group’s controlling stake in Iron Ore Co. of Canada, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Rio may decide to keep its Iron Ore Co. stake after being disappointed with the bids it’s received so far, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. While London-based Rio has considered selling the unit’s mining and infrastructure assets separately, it decided against the plan, the person said. Spokesmen for Teck and Rio and a spokeswoman for Iron Ore Co. declined to comment.
Buying Canada’s largest iron-ore producer would enable Vancouver-based Teck to diversify its production, which mostly comprises coal, copper and zinc. Rio’s 59 per cent stake in Iron Ore Co. may fetch as much as $3.5 billion, Crédit Suisse Group AG analysts said in a note in June.
An acquisition that size would be Teck’s largest since its C$10.4 billion ($10.1 billion) purchase of Fording Canadian Coal Trust in 2008, a deal completed just as commodity prices were beginning to plunge during the financial crisis. In 2009, Teck’s credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s and the company sold a 17 per cent stake to China Investment Corp.
Teck now has a “very strong” balance sheet and would like to keep it that way, Chief Executive Officer Don Lindsay said on a July 25 earnings conference call with analysts.
“We do look at opportunities in the market,” he said. If Teck found a potential acquisition,”we’d look at how to finance it at that stage, but always with the key criteria that we are staying investment-grade.”
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