Freeport-McMoRan Isn’t Looking for Strategic Deals in Coming Years, CEO Says – by Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – January 13, 2020)

U.S. mining company Freeport-McMoRan Inc. FCX 4.90% has no interest in major strategic deals over the next three years, its chief executive said Monday, potentially stymieing informal overtures from Barrick Gold Corp. GOLD -2.24% to merge.

Barrick Gold Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow has told reporters that there is logic in merging with Freeport. That has stoked expectations among some investors and bankers that the two sides could get together. Alongside copper, Freeport’s massive Indonesian mine, Grasberg, is also one of the world’s largest gold producers.

But Freeport is too focused on the engineering challenge of turning Grasberg from open pit mining into an underground operation to think about mergers and acquisition deals, said the company’s veteran CEO, Richard Adkerson.

In addition, market challenges related to the U.S.-China trade war mean this isn’t the best time for major strategic moves, Mr. Adkerson said.

“Our company is laser-focused on completing that [Grasberg transition], so we are focused on that and not M&A opportunities,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “After that is complete, we would be in a position to look at a number of alternatives that could be attractive to our shareholders,” he said.

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