* At least four bidders in second phase of sale - sources
* Anglo owns 70 percent of Amapa
* Amapa targets 5.5 million tonnes of iron ore in 2012
By Clara Ferreira-Marques and Silvia Antonioli
LONDON, Nov 2 At least four suitors including
commodities trader Glencore are in the bidding process
for miner Anglo American's majority stake in the Amapa
iron ore operation in northern Brazil, according to sources
familiar with the matter.
Anglo bought control of Amapa in 2008 from Brazilian
billionaire Eike Batista's MMX as part of the $5.5 billion Minas
Rio acquisition. But the asset has been deemed non-core and has
been on the block since last year.
Other bidders in the current second phase of the sale
process include Russian steelmaker Severstal,
privately owned mining group Zamin, which was founded by Indian
commodities investor Pramod Agarwal and already owns assets in
Brazil, and Australia's Centaurus, also already working
in the country.
Glencore has ambitions to grow in iron ore, a key
steel-making ingredient in which it is not currently a major
player, but the commodities trader has also been selective on
the assets it targets.
Glencore, Severstal and Zamin declined to comment. It was
not immediately possible to reach Centaurus.
Anglo American also declined to comment.
A sale of the 70 percent stake in Amapa would be a welcome
piece of good news for Anglo, whose chief executive resigned
last week. Cynthia Carroll quit after more than five years at
the helm, under investor pressure over, among other things,
delays and cost overruns at the Minas Rio operation.
Selling Amapa would allow Anglo's Brazilian team to focus on
Minas Rio, key to the recovery of the miner's underperforming
An internal valuation last year put Amapa's value at $1.5
billion, meaning Anglo's 70 percent holding would be worth at
least $1 billion, but that value is expected to have dropped
significantly as the iron ore price has weakened and economic
prospects for top consumer China have become murky.
One news report in September put the value at closer to $400
to $600 milion, but at least one industry source said it could
"A price of $400 to $600 million is too expensive, as you
have to consider you have to buy resources nearby," the industry
source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"If someone succeeds in buying it, they have to buy another
(deposit). Otherwise it would take them over 15 years to recover
the investment under today's production rate."
Amapa, in the very north of Brazil, has shortcomings
including a restriction on capesize vessels in the Amazon port
that serves it, limiting the amount of ore that can be shipped
at any one time and increasing freight costs.
Anglo said in its 2011 annual report that Amapa was expected
to produce 5.5 million tonnes of iron ore this year. It
contributed $120 million of Anglo's operating profit in 2011,
more than twice that generated by Anglo's nickel division.
The remaining 30 percent in Amapa is owned by U.S. iron ore
pellet producer Cliffs Natural Resources.
The sale is being run by investment bank UBS, one
of the sources said.