DOHA Qatar, the second-largest investor in miner Xstrata XTA.L, looks favorably on the company's proposed $32 billion takeover by commodities trader Glencore (GLEN.L), Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said on Monday.
Asked at a news conference if Qatar would support the tie-up, Sheikh Hamad said: "We are looking in favor of a merger between the two companies."
But he stopped short of signaling whether the Gulf state - a kingmaker in one of the mining industry's biggest ever deals - would vote in support of a final offer from Glencore, made last month. Shareholders, who could get a date for a fresh meeting this week, are expected to vote early next month.
"It is under a lot of consideration and focus," he said.
Sheikh Hamad did not comment specifically on whether Qatar was satisfied with all aspects of the revised offer, not least the management change that would bring in Glencore's chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, at the helm of the combined group.
Sheikh Hamad said last month that Qatar had "no problem" with the new price, but was studying other aspects of the deal.
Gas-rich Qatar has built up a stake of more than 12 percent in Xstrata since Glencore announced its long-expected takeover offer in February. It is now the largest investor in the world's fourth-largest diversified miner after Glencore.
"(Qatar's) decision on the voting pattern has not yet been made," a source familiar with the deal said, after Sheikh Hamad's comments were published.
Qatar has said before that it supports the tie-up between Glencore and Xstrata, but it surprised the market in June by demanding a better price. Glencore acquiesced last month.
Qatar's support is critical in a deal that requires the approval of 75 percent of shareholders, excluding Glencore. ($1 = 0.6216 British pounds)
(Additional reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques; Writing by Dinesh Nair; Editing by Andrew Torchia)