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Xiong gets president's position at Chinalco

ALUMINUM Corp of China, the nation's leading diversified nonferrous metals maker which is also known as Chinalco, has appointed former executive Xiong Weiping as its new president to replace Xiao Yaqing.

Xiao, who led Chinalco's acquisition of mining giant Rio Tinto, was promoted to deputy secretary general of the State Council, a Chinalco official said, confirming earlier reports.

The appointments were announced by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in an internal meeting in Beijing yesterday, the official said.

Chinalco, the largest shareholder in Rio, last week agreed to invest a further US$19.5 billion in the debt-laden miner, including US$7.2 billion for bonds convertible into shares and US$12.3 billion for stakes in Rio's iron ore, aluminum and copper projects.

If successful, the deal would be China's largest overseas acquisition and double Chinalco's stake in Rio to 18 percent.

The deal is facing uncertainties as it has to secure approval from the Australian government and Rio's shareholders. Rio is persuading its wary shareholders to back the plan, amid speculation BHP Billiton, Rio's former suitor, may re-launch a bid.

On Monday, Xiao said Chinalco has no plan to sweeten the offer even if a rival bid emerges as the Chinese firm thinks its offer is the most reasonable one.

Chinalco's investment should have no bearing on the annual iron ore price negotiations between Chinese steel makers and the world's top three ore miners, which include Rio, BHP and Brazil's Vale, Xiao said, but analysts have said this would boost China's bargaining position in the long run.

As part of the deal, Chinalco will take 15 percent of Rio's Hamersley iron ore unit and jointly sell 30 percent of the output in China.

Xiong left Chinalco in 2006 to join China Travel International Investment Hong Kong Ltd as vice chairman and general manager.


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