Glencore Slashes Debt as It Positions for M&A in Commodities
Comment of the Day

August 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Glencore Slashes Debt as It Positions for M&A in Commodities

This article by Javier Blas for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

"These results indicate the strong position Glencore has built in the recent past and we expect the momentum to continue," said Heath Jansen, a mining analyst at Citigroup Inc. Glencore shares slipped 1.8 percent to 333.55 pence as of 8:56 a.m. in London.

Glasenberg, 60, said in February that the "time is right" to reward shareholders after difficult years in 2015 and 2016, when the company suspended dividends and sold shares to raise cash.

Glasenberg, the pugnacious South African CEO, now appears to be strengthening Glencore’s balance sheet first, a sign the company is looking at deals, rather than immediately returning more money to shareholders.

Eoin Treacy's view

Glencore held their dividend and a couple of weeks ago Rio Tinto raised theirs but not as much as investors had been hoping. Appetite for M&A has been floated as a reason for these decisions to conserve cash and that argument has merit.

However, it is also worth considering that the commodity bust from the 2011 was extremely debilitating to both the balance sheets of commodity producers and to their personal confidence in expansion projects. As the rebound continues, the fact mining companies are looking to pick up distressed assets rather than borrowing to fund ambitious greenfield projects suggests there is perhaps evidence of a realization that this is a better to accumulate assets than when prices are at all-time highs.

Glencore has succeeded as a commodity trader while Noble Group has all but disappeared. The share is back testing its lows while Glencore has paused in the region of last year’s peak.

The Blackrock World Mining Trust is trading on a discount to NAV of 11.5% and has bounced last month from the region of the trend mean. 

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