Freeport McMoRan Inc. is considering selling a minority stake in its portfolio of copper mines, one of the options on the table as the company scrambles to slash its $20-billion (U.S.) debt load, sources familiar with the matter said.
Freeport had initially planned to take part of its energy business public to raise cash. But with oil prices in the dumps and scant investor interest, the company put those plans on the back burner, the sources said.
Now, Arizona-based Freeport is mulling selling a stake of up to 20 per cent in its suite of mining assets in the Americas and maybe Africa, the sources said. It is unknown how much Freeport is expecting to get or whether the company can find investors willing to buy a stake. One name that has been floated has been China’s Citic, a government-owned investment firm, sources said.
A spokesman for Freeport said there was “nothing to discuss at this time” ahead of the company’s quarterly earnings call next week. Citic could not immediately be reached for comment.
The company is under intense pressure to halve its debt, the majority of which was incurred four years ago, when it decided to diversify out of mining and spent $20-billion on oil and gas assets during the height of the oil boom.
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