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January 29, 2009

"The strange case of Asarco"

TheDeal.com has an article on how the two bidders for the bankrupt copper mining firm - India's Sterlite and Mexico's Grupo Mexico - are pushing for a lower price.

Listen to Grupo Mexico's lawyer, Jorge Lazale, who told the Arizona Daily Star that "today we are not willing to pay everyone in full. [Asarco] decided not to engage with Grupo and now they are paying the consequences. Now they will get cents on the dollar."

...Sterlite's latest offer is $2.1 billion, a decrease from the $2.6 billion it backed out of on Oct. 13. When it reduced the offer by a more realistic $500 million, Sterlite blamed frozen credit markets and the decline in copper prices for its inability to finance its own operations and complete the acquisition.

But there is a wild card that makes Lazale's comments a bit more wild-eyed. At a Jan. 13 status conference in front of Judge Richard S. Schmidt in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi, Asarco disclosed that it was not only still negotiating with Sterlite and Grupo Mexico, but that it was also considering a third proposal with Glencore International AG.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at arun@ventureintelligence.in