Anglo looks to sell Peru copper stake to Japanese firms: sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Anglo American AAL.L is likely to sell up to 30 percent of its multi-billion dollar Peruvian copper project Quellaveco to Japanese entities, including Mitsubishi, which already own part of it, three sources familiar with the matter said.

The London-listed miner said in its 2017 financial results it is seeking to cut its 82 percent interest in Quellaveco, which could produce 225,000 tonnes of copper annually, to between 50 and 70 percent.

The sources said it has hired investment banks Goldman Sachs GS.N and Morgan Stanley MS.N to help with the sale, which could be announced within the next two months.

Goldman Sachs did not respond to a request for comment and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Japanese trading house Mitsubishi 8058.T owns 18.1 percent of Quellaveco, but is looking to increase the stake to just above 30 percent, one of the sources said.

Mitsubishi was not immediately available to comment.

Other Japanese trading houses including Sumitomo 8053.T, Mitsui 8031.T, JX Nippon Mining & Metals and Itochu 8001.T are considering making final offers for a minority stake, the sources said.

Sumitomo, Mitsui, JX Nippon and Itochu were not immediately available to comment on details of the sale or the value of the project, which has been estimated by analysts at between $5 billion and $6 billion.

In an emailed comment on Thursday, CEO Mark Cutifani reiterated Anglo American would retain more than 50 percent.

“The percentage that we syndicate will be based on value and a number of other commercial and other factors,” he said.

Mining executives say there is widespread interest in new copper assets following a lack of investment in exploration because of the 2015-16 commodity price crash and as the expansion of electricity grids and the take up of electric vehicles spur demand.

Benchmark copper prices CMCU3 on the London Metal Exchange have rebounded to nearly $7,000 a ton from lows of around $4,300 a ton hit in early 2016, which was their weakest for seven years.

Reporting by Clara Denina and Barbara Lewis; Editing by Alexander Smith