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Friday, May 24, 2024

Anglo’s Hiring Freeze Post $43B Bid Rejection, Exclusive Document


On Thursday, Anglo American (AAL.L) announced a global hiring freeze as part of its strategy to streamline operations, create value, and resist a $43 billion takeover attempt by Australia’s BHP Group (BHP.AX).

The company revealed its plans on Tuesday to reorient its focus towards the energy transition metal copper while divesting its less lucrative coal, nickel, diamond, and platinum businesses. This strategic move is aimed at defending against the takeover bid by the world’s largest mining company.

“Having set out the results of our strategy review and the changes we will be making to our portfolio, this is an appropriate measure,” an Anglo American spokesman told Reuters.

“Clearly there will be exceptions for critical roles.”

Reuters had earlier reported the hiring freeze based on an internal memo from Anglo, reviewed by Reuters.

The London-listed miner has rejected BHP twice, saying its proposals continue to significantly undervalue the company.

“Following yesterday’s announcement of our plans to unlock significant value through a simplification of our portfolio … it is appropriate that we put in place a freeze on the recruitment of all non site-based permanent employees and contractors across all Businesses and Group Functions,” People and Organisation Director Monique Carter said in the memo.

Site-based employees are workers who are based at mines.

“In instances where formal written offers have been made to a candidate, we will honour those commitments however no new offers should be made,” Carter said, adding the freeze also applied to consultants beyond those already contracted.

Anglo employs around 60,000 staff globally of which slightly more than half are based in South Africa, showed its most recent annual report.

BHP’s options to take over Anglo are narrowing as it approaches a May 22 deadline to lodge a binding offer.

“There is certainly pressure on Anglo’s management to prove themselves,” said analyst Kaan Peker at RBC, adding that management will want to be keeping a strict lid on costs as the process unfolds.

Anglo’s plan to spin out its Australian metallurgical coal business could ultimately attract Rio Tinto (RIO.L), which exited its coal business in 2018, to the pared-back company.

“Management buys themselves six to nine months or a year, then arguably you might have three interested parties at the table,” Peker said.

In its proposed takeover, business divisions that BHP expects will yield cost savings through minimising duplication include Queensland metallurgical coal, where both miners operate, and the companies’ Latin American copper businesses.

Australia’s mining and energy union said on Wednesday it would seek urgent meetings with Anglo to discuss workers’ job security.

Anglo shares closed up 0.2% at 26.48 pounds on Wednesday, below BHP’s latest offer of about 27.53 pounds per share.

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