Rio Tinto shows Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg who knows China best – by James Thomson (Australian Financial Review – September 4, 2015)

Finally, a little relief for Glencore chief Ivan Glasenberg, who watched the miner’s stock climb 6.6 per cent on Thursday night after two horror days of trading that saw it fall 6.7 per cent and then 8.4 per cent.

Glencore stock has hit record low after record low since Glasenberg delivered the company’s results on August 19. Obviously this has been a period of extreme volatility for global markets, and a global commodities trader with a debt pile of $42.7 billion won’t win any awards for defensive stock of the month. But a 26 per cent fall in 12 days isn’t pretty.

Thursday night’s jump came despite Standard & Poor’s revising its outlook on Glencore to “negative” from “stable” after lowering its price assumptions for aluminium, copper, and other metals, “reflecting a change in market conditions and uncertainties about China’s economic outlook.”

But it did take a little financial show of strength to get the shares moving in the right direction again. On Wednesday Glencore said it would pay back $US350 million ($500 million) of perpetual bonds next month, at the earliest possible date. It was a clever way of showing the company has cash to pay debt as it battles the commodity price slump.

But investors aren’t the only ones applying the blowtorch to Glasenberg. On Thursday, Rio Tinto, the company Glencore would like to merge with, fired what many will see as another shot at Glencore.

The battleground? Who can read China the best.

Glasenberg caused quite a stir when he said in August that “at the moment none of us can read China.”

“None of us know what is going on there and I’m yet to find the guy who can predict China correctly. China in the first half was a lot weaker than anyone expected.”

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