LONDON Nov 25 Codelco has signaled it is
willing to come to a financial settlement with Anglo American
in a spat over a prized mine in Chile, but the state
copper producer said any deal would not come cheap, the
Financial Times reported on Friday.
Codelco's chief executive, Diego Hernández, said the company
could buy less than the full 49 percent stake in Anglo American
Sur, which includes the flagship expansion project Los Bronces,
El Soldado mine, the Chagres smelter and Los Sulfatos and San
Enrique Monolito exploration projects, the FT reported.
"Today, as Codelco, we have two alternatives - to reach an
agreement with Anglo American that recognises our rights and our
legitimate aspirations in accordance with the expectations we
have, and if we don't reach an agreement, legal action," he was
quoted as telling the paper in an interview.
He said discussions needed to be held about the exact nature
of the deal which would satisfy Codelco, the FT reported.
"We don't have preconceived ideas. But certainly, the
49percent has a value," he said, according to the
Anglo shocked Codelco -- the world's No. 1 copper producer
-- and investors earlier this month when it sold a 24.5 percent
stake in its southern Chilean copper properties to Japan's
Mitsubishi Corp for $5.4 billion, undermining an option
Codelco had to buy a 49 percent stake.
Codelco, which is wholly owned by the Chilean government,
insists it still has an option to buy a 49 percent stake in
Anglo American Sur, while Anglo says that potential stake has
been reduced to 24.5 percent after the stake sale to Mitsubishi.
Codelco has appealed against the sale to Chilean courts, and
the two sides are gearing up for a likely protracted legal
battle. Earlier this week Chilean President Sebastian Pinera
said the country's courts would decide the option contract spat
between the companies if they failed to negotiate a deal.
While a financial settlement could be expensive, Hernández
said the option value was "even a bit higher than the commercial
value" given the synergies collaboration between the two
companies could offer, the FT reported.
Some estimates suggest the two companies could save up to 12
percent in costs via synergies at their neighbouring Los Bronces
and Andina mines, according to the article.
"So it is important to us to be partners," Hernández is
quoted as saying. "But a relevant partner, with weight, not one
per cent," he added, according to the article.
Anglo and Codelco were not immediately available for