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Minmetals gets green light for OZ Minerals

CHINA Minmetals' proposal to purchase most of OZ Minerals Ltd received the green light from shareholders of the Australian miner yesterday, after the Chinese firm sweetened its offer.

The deal, set to be completed within a week, could also help ease concerns Chinese companies have about investing in Australia after Rio Tinto last week rejected a US$19.5-billion investment by Aluminum Corp of China, or Chinalco.

Minmetals raised its offer late Wednesday by 15 percent to US$1.39 billion, after debt-laden OZ Minerals said it had received alternative proposals.

Minmetals said the higher offer reflects improvements in the metals and capital markets.

Zhou Zhongshu, president of China Minmetals Corp, called the deal a win-win transaction.

"We will honor our transaction commitments to the Treasury Department of Australia and contribute to the development of Sino-Australian trade and economic relations," he said.

The Australian government had blocked Minmetals' original proposal to take over OZ Minerals fully in March because OZ's prime Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia is close to a weapon testing facility. Minmetals later revised its proposal to exclude that mine.

Chinalco's collapsed deal has aroused concerns that more Chinese investment in Australia could fail, and analysts said buyers may now target smaller mining firms for acquisition.

Minmetals would pursue further opportunities in Australia, its spokesman said.

Beijing-based Minmetals engages mainly in trading and production of metals and minerals.

OZ is the world's second-largest zinc producer and also a supplier of copper, lead, gold and silver.


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