Russian Metals Companies Merge To Form World Aluminum Leader

Group will produce four million tons of primary aluminum a year -- more than the 3.6 million tons currently produced by Alcoa.

Russian aluminum giants Rusal and Sual have merged with Swiss company Glencore to form the world's biggest aluminum company, Sual co-owner Viktor Vekselberg said at a news conference Oct. 9. "This is a historic event. After long negotiations, the three companies -- Rusal, Sual and Glencore -- have signed an agreement to merge the majority of their assets to form a very large aluminum company," Vekselberg said. Rusal will control 66% of the new group, Sual would have 22% and Glencore 12%.

Rusal produced 2.714 million tons of primary aluminum in 2005. Sual, which is co-owned by Vekselberg and Leonid Blavatnik, mines more than 5.4 million tons of bauxite, the main component in aluminum, and produces over one million tons of primary aluminum. Swiss Glencore owns aluminum factories in Sweden and the U.S. and is part owner in about a dozen other factories.

The long-expected merger creates a group that will produce four million tons of primary aluminum a year, Vekselberg said, substantially more than the 3.6 million tons currently produced by U.S .company Alcoa, formerly the world's biggest group.

Analysts have put the potential value of the group at $20-$30 billion.

The formation of the new group is the latest step in the Kremlin's strategy of fielding Russian natural resources giants -- such as state gas monopoly Gazprom and state oil company Rosneft -- to compete with leading international companies on the global playing field.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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