Merger hopes lift Rio Tinto shares

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Mining stocks have surged after Rio Tinto said it was the subject of an attempt to create a new industry powerhouse worth around £100bn.

London-listed Rio was contacted by commodities giant Glencore in July about a mega-merger, but the board unanimously decided that a deal was not in the best interests of its shareholders.

Rio told Glencore, which also has a London listing, of its decision in August and there has been no further contact between the firms.

However, Rio’s shares were higher today after it was reported that Glencore has held talks with Rio shareholders to gauge interest about making a hostile bid for the business over the next 12 months.

A merger between the two firms would create a mining and commodities giant valued at around £100bn.

Other industry stocks listed in London were higher on hopes of consolidation in the sector, with Anglo American and Antofagasta up by more than one per cent in an otherwise downbeat session for the FTSE 100 Index.

Rio has strong reserves of iron ore, which would fill a gap in Glencore’s list of commodities as it already has strong positions in copper, nickel, zinc and coal.

Last year Glencore acquired the Swiss mining firm Xstrata, which formed one of the world’s biggest metals and commodities firms.

Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said: “Rio Tinto has made significant progress in refocusing and strengthening its business.

“The board believes that the continued successful execution of Rio Tinto’s strategy will allow Rio Tinto to increase free cash flow significantly in the near term and materially increase returns to shareholders.”

“Rio Tinto’s shareholders stand to benefit from the very considerable value that this will generate.”