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June 30, 2017

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Rio shareholders vote for Yancoal

RIO Tinto shareholders have approved the sale of a suite of Australian coal assets to China-backed Yancoal Australia for US$2.69 billion, ending a bidding war with commodities trader Glencore.

The sale was approved by 97 percent of shareholders of Rio Tinto’s UK and Australian-listed shares, Rio Tinto said yesterday in a statement to the Australian stock exchange.

Rio Tinto Chairman Jan du Plessis said funds from the sale had yet to be allocated within the company amid some calls by shareholders to use the money to boost dividends or buy back shares.

“What to do with the money? That’s a good problem to have,” du Plessis told a meeting of shareholders in Australia minutes before they voted overwhelmingly in favor of the deal.

“Let’s wait until we get the check in the bank,” du Plessis added.

Rio Tinto, which has dual primary stock listings in Australia and Britain, confirmed Yancoal as the preferred buyer on Monday after Yancoal topped Glencore’s offer of US$2.675 billion.

Votes were held in London and Australia because Yancoal is deemed a related party to one of Rio Tinto’s major shareholders, Chinalco.

Rio Tinto’s London shareholders voted on Tuesday.

Yancoal is a subsidiary of Yanzhou Coal Mining Co, which is owned by China’s state-owned Yankuang Group.

Both Yancoal and Glencore were forced to increase their offers above most analysts’ valuations of about US$2 billion to remain in the running.

Before the votes, Rio Tinto highlighted a range of advantages in the Yancoal offer, which it said included a better chance of completion coupled with a US$225 million break fee.

Importantly, according to analysts, Rio Tinto also said the Yancoal offer included “a faster and more certain timetable,” closing the transaction in the third quarter of 2017.

It would take until at least the first half of 2018 to complete Glencore’s transaction, according to du Plessis.


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