Glencore eyes bid for Anglo American coking coal assets

  • Anglo’s chief executive Duncan Wanblad put the division up for sale last week

Glencore is understood to be among the potential bidders circling mining giant Anglo American’s coking coal business.

Anglo’s chief executive Duncan Wanblad last week put the division up for sale after fending off three takeover attempts from its bigger rival BHP.

He is eager to move quickly to shore up support from shareholders for his strategy to shrink the 107-year-old company.

Bidder: Glencore is understood to be among the potential bidders circling mining giant Anglo American’s coking coal business

Wanblad’s overhaul will leave Anglo to focus on its lucrative copper and iron ore businesses.

Coking coal is used in steelmaking and Anglo works on several mines, development projects and joint ventures in Australia.

Glencore also has a number of coal operations in Australia.

Wanblad said there had already been ‘interest’ in the business since he laid out his plans to secure Anglo’s future company in mid-May. 

He intends to sell the five mines in Queensland as a single unit rather than individually. 

The break-up of the company will focus on splitting off coking coal and nickel units first, then its South African platinum division. Last in line is likely to be the spin-off of De Beers, the world’s most prestigious diamond company. 

Diamond prices in particular have struggled in recent years, partly because of the growing popularity of lab-grown stones. 

De Beers may float its shares on the London stock market where it could be valued at £4billion or more. Anglo may also list its £7billion platinum division on the UK stock market, Wanblad has said.

An engineer by training, Wanblad has spent more than 30 years in the industry and most of it at Anglo, where he took over as chief executive in 2022.

He shocked the stock market late last year when the group made sweeping revisions to its plans for most divisions of the company, triggering a huge share price fall and sparking talk that the group had become a takeover target.

Over six weeks in April and May, BHP tabled three offers for Anglo, with the highest valuing it at £39billion.

A tie-up would have created the world’s largest copper miner. Copper is a critical metal for the green transition, particularly in technology such as electric cars.

Anglo’s shares tumbled when the deal fell apart, and it is now valued at £34billion. BHP’s market value is £118billion.

Coal businesses are seen as controversial by environmentally minded investors. Coking – or metallurgical – coal is used to make steel from scratch in blast furnaces.

Demand is set to decline in the West, where steelmakers are building electric furnaces that recycle existing steel, which is seen as a greener alternative. But many countries will need blast furnaces for decades to come.

Anglo American and Glencore declined to comment.