Nickel West Excluded From BHP Billiton Demerger, A Sign That Sale is Imminent?

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BHP Billiton is in talks with potential buyers for all, or part, of its Nickel West division in Australia after excluding the business from a major restructuring, Reuters reported.

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“We continue to talk to interested parties,” BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie told Reuters. “This is a matter of commercial discussions with several potential buyers.”

The world’s biggest miner is spinning off its aluminum, coal, manganese and silver assets and its nickel business in Colombia into a new company in a “demerger” of the 2001 union of the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. and Billiton PLC .

X2 Resources, an investment vehicle established by Mick Davis, the chief executive of Xstrata until its merger with Glencore has been mentioned by analysts as a contender for Nickel West. X2 Resources has up to $3.75 billion in finance available.

With a decline of 0.3 percent on the LME to $18,550 per metric ton on Monday, August 18, the nickel 3-month price recorded the biggest decline of the day. The nickel spot price weakened by 0.2 percent on the LME, settling at $18,500 per metric ton. Following two days of downward movement, the cash price of primary Indian nickel held steady at INR 1,139 ($18.68) per kilogram.

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Chinese stainless steel prices closed flat for the day. The price of Chinese ferro-chrome held steady at CNY 8,300 ($1,350) per metric ton. The price of Chinese ferro-moly saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around CNY 145,000 ($23,576) per metric ton.

The Allegheny Ludlum 316 stainless surcharge remained essentially flat at $1.28 per pound. The price of Chinese 316 stainless coil continues hovering around CNY 26,000 ($4,227) per metric ton for the fifth day in a row. The price of Chinese 304 stainless coil saw little movement at CNY 16,400 ($2,667) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 316 stainless steel scrap was unchanged at CNY 16,100 ($2,618) per metric ton. The price of Chinese 304 stainless steel scrap held steady at CNY 16,400 ($2,667) per metric ton.

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