Rio Tinto looks to lift stake in Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi mine – by Bridget Carter and Gretchen Friemann (The Australian – June 13, 2016)

Speculation just won’t go away that Rio Tinto will move to better match its equity position in Mongolia’s expanding Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine to its deep involvement and leadership of the nation-changing project.

The latest chatter, courtesy of London’s Sunday Times, is that Rio has hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser to look at a two-step wrap-up of the Vancouver-listed Turquoise Hill, owned 51 per cent by Rio. Turquoise Hill owns 66 per cent of Oyu Tolgoi (meaning Rio has a 33.66 per cent Oyu Tolgoi stake), with the Mongolian government owning the remaining 34 per cent.

The Sunday Times is suggesting that Rio is looking to increase its stake in Turquoise Hill and have the rest of the company acquired by single strategic buyer or consortium. Both Rio and Goldmans declined to comment, as was the case the last time it was reported Goldmans had been hired to solve the Oyu Tolgoi conundrum.

The time and effort spent by Rio on getting Oyu Tolgoi to the point where the operation’s $US5.3 billion expansion underground can take place, along with its financial support along the way, makes it a no brainier that its indirect 33.66 per cent indirect exposure needs to become direct, and much larger.

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