HomeEconomyUnki’s parent company suspends dividends on falling commodity prices

Unki’s parent company suspends dividends on falling commodity prices

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THE parent company of local platinum miner Unki, will sell more assets, suspend dividends until the end of 2016 and whittle down its business divisions to three from six in the face of severe commodity price falls, the mining company said on Tuesday.

Anglo American said it would cut its assets by 60%, reduce its workforce to 50 000 from 135 000 and form three divisions: De Beers for diamonds, Industrial Metals for platinum and base metals and Bulk Commodities for coal and iron ore.

Unki is the third largest platinum producer in the country after Zimplats and Mimosa mines, both of which are controlled by South African miners, Implats and Aquarius.

The London-listed Anglo aims to raise US$4 billion through assets sales, up from an earlier target of US$3 billion, and said it would press ahead with the sale of its Phosphates and Niobium businesses in 2016.

“While we have continued to deliver our business restructuring and performance objectives across the board, the severity of commodity price deterioration requires bolder action,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani said.

The rout in commodity prices is putting pressure on credit ratings and dividends across the mining sector, prompting reductions in capital expenditure, operational costs and jobs.

The fifth-biggest diversified global mining group by market value, Anglo is grappling with sliding commodity prices including iron ore, platinum and diamonds.

Anglo’s share price has fallen 70% so far this year as investors worry about the slow pace of turnaround efforts launched by Cutifani in 2013.

So far, Anglo said it had secured US$2 billion in assets sales. Anglo also suspended dividends for the remainder of 2015 and in 2016.

“Upon resumption, (our dividend) policy will change to pay-out ratio to provide flexibility through the cycle and clarity for shareholders,” Cutifani said, abandoning the company’s progressive dividend policy under which the payout rises, or is at least maintained.

Mining and trading giant Glencore has also suspended dividends and is selling assets to cut its debt and regain the trust of investors after its shares hit record lows.-Reuters/Staff Writer

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