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Norsk Hydro Buys Vale Aluminum Units for $4.9 Billion (Update2)
May 4,2010 08:59CST
industry news

LONDON, May 4 -- Norsk Hydro ASA, Europe's third- largest aluminum maker, agreed to buy mining and smelting assets from Vale SA in a deal valued at $4.9 billion, boosting its control over raw materials used in production.

Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, will receive $1.1 billion in cash and new shares equivalent to 22 percent of the Oslo-based company's outstanding stock, Hydro said today in a statement. Hydro will assume $700 million in net debt and plans to raise 10 billion kronor ($1.69 billion) selling shares to help finance the transaction, it said.

Hydro is adding raw-material assets to lower costs after prices for aluminum slumped last year on slowing economic growth and declining demand from builders and carmakers. The purchase gives the Norwegian company control of Brazil's Paragominas, one of the world's biggest mines for bauxite used to make the metal, as well as 91 percent of Alunorte, the largest alumina refinery, the company said.

The combination will "considerably" strengthen Hydro's position in bauxite mining and alumina refining, it said in the statement. The quality and efficiency of the new assets will also "significantly improve" the Norwegian company's financial position, it said.

Hydro also gets 51 percent of the Albras aluminum plant and 81 percent of the CAP alumina refinery project in the deal. It already owns 34 percent of Alunorte and 20 percent of CAP.

"This is a historic day" and a "transforming transaction," Hydro's Chief Executive Officer Svein Richard Brandtzaeg said at a press conference in Oslo.

Further Purchases

Hydro has the right to take over the remaining 40 percent stake in Paragominas in two installments, in 2013 and 2015, in return for a cash payment of $200 million for each installment, the company said.

The company decided on the rights offer, set for completion in July, to preserve financial flexibility, the CEO said at the press conference.

The transaction will reduce the Norwegian state's ownership in the company to approximately 34.5 percent from 43.8 percent, Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry Trond Giske said at the press conference. Norway's "ambition in the longer term" is to bring the holding back up towards 40 percent, it said in a statement.

The purchase is a "good strategic move" for Hydro and the value is fair, Giske said. The government says "yes to the deal" and the share issue, he said.

Vale's Gains

Vale becomes the second-largest shareholder in Hydro after the government. A representative of the Rio De Janiero-based miner will join the Norwegian company's board of directors and the company has agreed to not increase its shareholding, Vale's Executive Director Tito Martins said in an interview after the press conference in Oslo. Vale doesn't foresee any job losses as a consequence of the deal, he added.

Vale is committed to the business and will give its total support to Hydro," Martins said. "I am confident it will bring us a lot of benefits."



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