News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Glencore, Indian companies interested in $A10 billion Rio assets sale; Baosteel chairman sees painful adjustment ahead; and Whitehaven hoax case still live.

Staff Reporter

Glencore, Indian companies interested in $10B Rio assets sale

Rio Tinto continues to seek buyers for $10 billion of assets in the face of falling commodities prices, with Glencore, private equity funds and Indian companies said to be kicking the tyres of projects new chief Sam Walsh is trying to sell, according to The Australian.

There is speculation in London that commodities giant Glencore Xstrata and global private equity group Blackstone are interested in Rio's Canadian iron ore operations, and that a $US5 billion float of diamond assets is more likely than a sale.

The Northparkes copper mine in NSW and thermal coal assets in NSW and Queensland are also on the block as Walsh and his new finance boss Chris Lynch try to make a better fist of asset sales than their respective predecessors, Tom Albanese and Guy Elliott.

Baosteel chairman sees painful adjustment ahead

China’s new leaders will not embark on a fresh round of fiscal stimulus, leading to an oversupply of iron ore and only moderate growth in steel production this year, the head of China’s largest listed steel producer says, according to the Australian Financial Review.

In a downbeat assessment of the industry’s prospects, the chairman of Baosteel, Xu Lejiang, said a painful period of adjustment lay ahead.

“Steel production is much higher than demand in China,” Xu said in a rare press conference in Shanghai on Tuesday.

“Iron ore production will also be way higher than demand shortly.”

Whitehaven hoax case still live

The securities watchdog is still investigating the Whitehaven Coal hoax in pursuit of a possible penalty for market manipulation, five months after a fake press release wiped $A314 million from the market value of the miner, according to the AFR.

The hoax exposed the vulnerability of the market to fictional company statements, prompting the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to rewrite guidelines to encourage companies to monitor news and social media feeds for falsities.

ASIC also kicked off an investigation, questioning the anti-coal activist at the centre of the hoax, Jonathan Moylan, in late January.

“At this stage their investigation is continuing and I haven’t been charged,” Moylan said on Tuesday.

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