ANALYSIS: BHP Billiton’s moves in aluminium sharpen sale speculation

Apr 16, 2012 | 08:52 AM |

BHP Billiton’s recent moves in aluminium have sharpened speculation that the company is planning to divest some or all of its assets in the sector. BHP, which has total aluminium capacity of around 1.3 million tpy, has full ownership of the Hillside and Bayside smelters in Richards Bay, South Africa, as well as stakes in smelters and alumina refineries in Mozambique, Brazil and Australia. Ceo Marius Kloppers has said the metal has underperformed, and in December he handed leadership of the aluminium and nickel business to BHP’s former chief commercial officer Alberto Calderon, the deal-maker who put together the bids for Potash Corp and Rio Tinto, and once ran BHP's diamonds business. “These actions raise the possibility that BHP will consider exiting this business in the not-too-distant future,” said one analyst who watches BHP closely. Kloppers told analysts this month that while other metals have been exceptionally profitable during the....

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