(Updates with court decision in seventh paragraph.)
Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Anglo American Plc Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Carroll signaled she is prepared to seek an out- of-court resolution to a dispute with Chile’s Codelco over ownership of the world’s fifth biggest copper mine.
“We have stated very clearly and consistently that we are open to working with Codelco to agree a commercial solution and we urge Codelco and its board to act constructively to that end,” she said in an e-mailed statement today.
Carroll’s comments contrast those of Codelco Chief Executive Officer Diego Hernandez, who said on Jan. 16 that he sees little chance of talks as the two companies step up a courtroom battle over terms of a 2002 option contract.
Codelco says it has the right to buy 49 percent of Anglo’s Sur unit, which owns the Los Bronces mine in Chile, for $6 billion and is suing Anglo after the London-based company sold 24.5 percent of the unit to Mitsubishi Corp. in November for $5.39 billion. Anglo is seeking to annul the option contract on the grounds that Codelco breached terms by trying to exercise the option prematurely in a funding deal with Mitsui & Co Ltd.
The dispute is contractual and should be resolved as such, Anglo said today, referring to a criminal accusation regarding the Mitsubishi sale made by the president of the Federation of Copper Workers in Chile, a member of the Codelco board.
Criminal proceedings against individuals is “completely inappropriate” in what is a contractual dispute between companies, particularly when initiated by a Codelco board member, Carroll said in the statement.
A Chilean judge separately upheld a so-called precautionary measure today that blocks Anglo from selling further shares in the Sur unit. Codelco lodged the measure to protect its 49 percent purchase option.
--Editors: Robin Saponar, James Attwood
To contact the reporters on this story: John Viljoen in London at firstname.lastname@example.org; Matt Craze in Santiago at email@example.com
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