Glencore Buys Out Billionaire With $1 Billion Congo Mining Deal – by Franz Wild, Tom Wilson and Jesse Riseborough (Bloomberg News – February 14, 2017)

(Bloomberg) — Glencore Plc agreed to a $960 million deal that will boost ownership of two giant Congolese cobalt and copper mines, and sever its ties with controversial Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler.

For Glencore, the deal achieves two things: greater control of key assets at a time of booming copper and cobalt prices and a parting of ways from Gertler after his business in the Democratic Republic of Congo and relationship with President Joseph Kabila attracted scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Glencore will pay Fleurette Group, a company owned by Gertler’s family trust, $534 million cash after all debts are paid, the company said in a statement on Monday. The assets include a 31 percent stake in Mutanda Mining, the world’s biggest cobalt mine, and a 10.3 percent holding in Katanga Mining Ltd., which operates a nearby copper and cobalt mine.

The deal marks another step in Glencore’s turnaround from the commodities crisis. After selling $10 billion in assets and cutting debt, it’s returning to dealmaking as commodity prices quickly rebound.

Copper is at a 20-month high and cobalt, an essential element in lithium-ion batteries, soared 75 percent since the beginning of last year. Competition for cobalt resources is intensifying amid a global boom for electric vehicles.

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