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Amplats Tells Union It Won’t Sell Mines on the Cheap

A union at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. said the world’s largest producer of the metal told labor groups it won’t proceed with plans to sell mines should bidders for the assets not meet the company’s price targets.

The Anglo American Plc unit held talks with labor organizations prior to announcing on July 21 that it is seeking buyers for four mines in South Africa and possibly stakes in two joint ventures, Franz Stehring, head of mining at union UASA, said today by phone. UASA is the largest representative of workers in a bargaining unit for supervisors at Amplats, as the Johannesburg-based company is known, speaking on behalf of about 9,000 employees, he said.

Amplats told the unions it will do a due diligence study on the value of the assets, according to Stehring. “If I don’t get my price I won’t sell the mines,” Stehring cited company officials as saying. Amplats said it may consider a separate listing if it doesn’t receive bids reflecting the company’s view of the assets’ value, Stehring said.

Amplats will cut employee numbers by more than half through the sale of its oldest and deepest mines as it focuses on shallower operations that are less labor-intensive. The company’s first-half profit dropped 88 percent because of a five-month pay strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the largest across Amplats’s workforce.

Mpumi Sithole, an Amplats spokeswoman, couldn’t immediately respond to questions when phoned for comment.

Amplats would consider a separate listing for the assets if it can’t find a buyer, Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith said July 21.

“This is not a fire sale,” Griffith said. “We would prefer to sell the assets, and we think that there is a realistic market there, but it clearly isn’t the best time in the world to be trying to sell assets.”

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