Rio to sell aluminium smelter for US$500 million

Mae Love
January 13, 2018

Britain's Liberty House has offered $US500 million ($637.6 million) for Rio Tinto's Dunkerque aluminium smelter in northern France. It believes thousands more jobs could be created at the 570-worker plant as it plans further investment into the site to create an global aluminium products hub to tap into the growing demand for aluminium particular from the automotive sector.

Rio Tinto, in a separate statement, said Liberty House's plans included the modernisation of the French site and the offer "represents the best option for the future development of the site while also delivering value for Rio Tinto as we continue to streamline our portfolio".

The group has also approached Rio to buy its Australasian aluminium smelting unit, sources say.

Gupta added: "This investment will help fulfill our ambitions in the sector, further enabling us to capitalize fully on expected growth in demand for aluminum over the coming years".

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Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques, who took charge in July 2016, is moving to divest all but the company's best-performing units.

In a nod to economic policies pursued by French President Emmanuel Macron's government, Gupta said: "We are particularly attracted by the pro-business environment that President Macron's France is quickly building".

THE steel giant rumoured as a potential buyer for Rio Tinto's Gladstone assets has started an investment program to buy the Rio Tinto-owned largest aluminium smelter in Europe.

It is anticipated that the process will be completed and the sale concluded during the second quarter of 2018.

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