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MONTREAL – A move by Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Group to drop the storied Alcan name has touched a nerve in Quebec and fostered a feeling in some quarters that the company is cold-heartedly discarding a priceless piece of Quebec’s heritage.
The chief executive of Rio Tinto’s Montreal-based aluminum division, Alfredo Barrios, said in a recent internal memo the corporate name is being changed from Rio Tinto Alcan to “the Aluminium product group of Rio Tinto” by way of aligning with Rio Tinto’s other product divisions in a uniform global branding effort.
Mr. Barrios acknowledged the change “may understandably generate mixed emotions” for employees from within the ranks of the former Alcan, which Rio Tinto took over in a $38-billion (U.S.) deal seven years ago.
When Rio Tinto’s aluminum division headquarters moves next year from its current Sherbrooke St. location in the “Maison Alcan” to the spanking new Deloitte Tower next door to the Bell Centre, the major new tenant will be identified only as Rio Tinto.
Replacement of signage at the different sites, including the sprawling aluminum smelters in the Saguenay region of Quebec, is to begin next year.
The changes aren’t necessary and reflect a lack of sensitivity on the part of the London-based conglomerate, critics contend.
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