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Alba Hires BNP Paribas to Advise on $2.5 Billion Loan

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Aluminium Bahrain BSC hired BNP Paribas SA as adviser to assess the state-controlled company’s options for raising $2.5 billion in financing to expand its smelter.

The plan to add a sixth potline is subject to a feasibility study and government approvals, according to a company statement today. Work on the study will start by the end of this year.

The company, also known as Alba, plans to add the potline to produce 400,000 metric tons a year, boosting total capacity by about 30 percent to 1.3 million tons, Chief Executive Officer Laurent Schmitt said in an interview in June. Aluminum prices have declined 33 percent from a high of $2,803 a ton in May last year and traded at $1,865.75 in London today.

Alba is among Middle East producers able to rely on cheap energy to buck a global trend of shrinking output of the metal. Emirates Aluminium Co. plans to invest $4.5 billion to expand its capacity to 1.4 million tons a year by 2014, while Saudi Arabian Mining Co.’s $10.8 billion venture with Alcoa Inc. includes building a 740,000 ton-a-year smelter by 2013.

Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co., the country’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to invest in new aluminum plants, Alayam reported yesterday, citing Chief Executive Officer Mahmood Al Kooheji, who is also the chairman of Alba. The fund owns 69.4 percent of Alba, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ayesha Daya in Dubai at adaya1@bloomberg.net; Wael Mahdi in Manama at wmahdi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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