Freeport-McMoRan Inc. agreed to sell its Democratic Republic of Congo copper mine to China Molybdenum Co. for $2.65 billion as the Phoenix-based company reduces debt racked up in the commodities boom.
China Molybdenum will acquire Freeport’s indirect 56 percent stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine, which also produces cobalt, via a 70 percent interest in TF Holdings Ltd., Freeport said in statement Monday. The two companies also agreed to negotiate the sale of its interests in other cobalt assets.
Freeport, which plunged 71 percent last year as commodity prices collapsed, has been seeking to offload assets and reduce a debt load that stood at $20 billion at the end of 2015. Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson said last month he expected to sell more mines and the Tenke deal brings the total to more than $4 billion this year.
“This transaction is another significant step to strengthen our balance sheet and enhance value for shareholders,” Adkerson said in the statement. Freeport shares fell 3.6 percent before the start of regular trading on Monday. The stock has rallied 74 percent this year.
Tenke is one of Freeport’s five so-called core mines, which also include Cerro Verde and Morenci, as well as El Abra in Chile and Grasberg in Indonesia.
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