Pension funds mull bids for Rio Tinto's Canada iron ore miner -WSJ

July 5 Fri Jul 5, 2013 5:02pm EDT

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July 5 (Reuters) - Canada's two biggest pension funds are separately looking for partners to potentially bid on Rio Tinto's stake in Iron Ore Company of Canada, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday, citing two people familiar with the matter.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Quebec's Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec are "sounding out" other major institutional investors, the Journal said.

The Canada Pension Plan was not immediately available to comment and Caisse declined to comment.

Rio received 13 to 15 initial bids for its 59 percent stake in Canada's largest iron ore producer and drew up a shortlist of roughly half that number, sources with knowledge of the situation said in early June.

The global miner, like its rivals, has promised to focus on key assets and sell off non-core operations as it stares down a $19 billion debt burden and weak commodity prices.

When news of the possible sale broke in March, an industry source said a deal could value IOC's stake above $1.8 billion. The Journal said the stake could be worth some $4 billion.

A spokesman for Rio Tinto declined to comment.

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