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Alcoa CEO Calls Aluminum Unavailability Claims a ‘Myth’

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Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum maker, said claims by some consumers that the metal is unavailable are incorrect.

The claims are “a total myth,” Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld said today in a presentation to investors in Cleveland, Ohio. None of its customers have stated to Alcoa that they have a shortage of metal supply, he said.

The London Metal Exchange, the world’s biggest industrial-metals marketplace, said today it changed its rules to speed up withdrawals from warehoused stockpiles amid scrutiny from U.S regulators. Beverage maker MillerCoors LLC, a SABMiller Plc and Molson Coors Brewing Co. venture, said at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in July that banks and other warehouse owners are manipulating aluminum supplies and slowing deliveries to boost prices.

“Alcoa encourages the LME to focus on increasing confidence among market participants through greater transparency and premium contracts, and cautions against direct market intervention,” the New York-based company said in a statement today. The LME should provide a clear timeline for the implementation of changes, it said.

Alcoa has cut output in Canada, the U.S. and Brazil as the company seeks to reduce costs amid a 12 percent decline this year in aluminum prices. Kleinfeld is closing high-cost smelters and focusing investment on so-called downstream divisions.

The shares dropped 7.4 percent at the close in New York to $8.95, the biggest decline since Aug. 8, 2011. The shares have risen 3.1 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Liezel Hill in Toronto at lhill30@bloomberg.net; Sonja Elmquist in New York at selmquist1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net