Metals companies are in talks with black empowerment groups over teaming up to bid for the South African steel manufacturing assets of mining giant Anglo American.
The Scaw Metals sale willmark the completion of chiefexecutive Cynthia Carroll's two-and-a-half year plan to sell-off non-core assets and concentrate on Anglo's historic strengths in areas such as iron ore and coal.
This came in the wake of a failed takeover bid by rival Xstrata, which is now trying to merge with commodities giant Glencore.
However, potential buyers of significant assets have to team-up with black community groups as part of a law that seeks to redress the economic imbalance caused by years of apartheid.
Roman Abramovich's Evraz, a steelmaker listed in London but based in Russia, is tipped to be among those who have talked to some of these groups about bidding for Scaw. Even if the company does decide to enter a bid, it is thought that a domestic or African rival that is more familiar with the legislation and has establishedrelationships with local banks is a more likely winner.
It is understood that Angloinitially wanted $800m to $900m for the business, but is likely to have to accept bids in the $500m-$750m range. This will be a disappointment, as Scaw's internationalassets fetched $932m in 2010.
Anglo said in February thatScaw would be the final sale inthe disposal programme,meaning that one-time sell-offtarget Copebras, a Brazilian fertiliser business, will be retained.