Rio Tinto adds $87 mln Ivanhoe Australia stake to auction block

MELBOURNE, April 11 Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:02am EDT

MELBOURNE, April 11 (Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto's list of assets up for sale has lengthened, with its unit, Turquoise Hill Resources, looking to sell its A$83 million ($87.48 million) majority stake in Ivanhoe Australia.

Ivanhoe said in a statement on Thursday it was aware Turquoise Hill had begun a "review of its options in relation to its shareholding in Ivanhoe Australia", after Dow Jones reported Turquoise Hill had appointed Citi to advise on a sale of the stake.

A Citi spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

A sale of Turquoise Hill's 57 percent stake in Ivanhoe Australia would come as no surprise as Rio Tinto's main interest in Turquoise Hill is its stake in the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia.

However, the appointment of an adviser for the sale shows new Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh is serious about shedding assets swiftly while slashing $5 billion in costs to appease shareholders who want to see the major miners use their capital more wisely.

The Ivanhoe Australia stake joins a growing list of assets that Rio is looking to sell, including its diamonds business, Pacific Aluminium unit, a 29 percent stake in Coal & Allied, and the Northparkes copper mine in Australia.

Ivanhoe Australia shares closed down 2.44 percent at A$0.20 on Thursday. At that level, the 57 percent stake in the company was worth A$82.7 million.

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