Mining Giant BHP Makes $39 Billion Bid for Rival Anglo American

BHP Group, the world’s largest mining company, has proposed a takeover of its rival Anglo American, in a deal that has the potential to shake up the industry at a time when demand for copper is soaring.

BHP said on Thursday that it had approached Anglo with a bid valued at 31.1 billion pounds, or $39 billion, in what would be one of the most significant deals in the industry in years. If successful, the acquisition would create one of the world’s largest miners of copper at a time of growing global demand for the metal, which is essential to the green-energy transition.

Anglo confirmed that it had received an “unsolicited, nonbinding and highly conditional combination proposal from BHP” and that its board was reviewing the offer with its advisers. BHP, which has headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, offered Anglo’s shareholders just over £25 per share, more than 10 percent above Wednesday’s closing stock price.

Anglo, which is based in London, owns large copper operations in Chile and Peru, as well as 85 percent of De Beers Group, the world’s leading diamond company. It has been viewed as a potential takeover target for the world’s largest miners, especially after a 94 percent plunge in annual profit and a series of write-downs in February.

But its structures are complicated, a fact reflected in the complexity of BHP’s bid, which would require that Anglo first split off its platinum and iron ore units in South Africa.

Analysts pointed out that BHP’s offer could spur competing bids for Anglo, in part because the proposed deal would probably attract antitrust scrutiny. They recommended that Anglo spin off its diamond business, which has suffered from a drop in demand for luxury items in China and the United States.

“Anglo has said BHP has to make its intentions clear by May 22, and if they do formalize a serious bid, it could very well invite others to join in,” Ben Davis, an analyst with Liberum, wrote in a note.

Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange have risen 15 percent this year, approaching $10,000 a ton, as demand has increased with the rise in clean energy technologies like wind turbines, electric vehicle batteries and heat pumps.

In the United States, President Biden’s signature climate and energy law contains hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits for companies that switch to low-carbon energy sources, while Europe is pursuing a similar strategy.

“Overall, we can see the sense in the deal for the copper assets,” analysts at Berenberg wrote in a research note. “But BHP is potentially buying a group of assets that need some care and attention, which, in our view, offer limited upside at this point.”

The deal could see bidding for the assets that are being spun off, analysts said. Last year, BHP completed its acquisition of its former Australian rival, Oz Minerals, which further increased its offerings in copper and nickel.

Demand for copper is expected to grow 24 percent over the next decade, according to projections by Wood Mackenzie, an energy research firm.

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