Canadian businessman offers to invest in Teck’s coal unit to thwart Glencore’s bid

FILE PHOTO: A visitor looks at a presentation by Teck Resources at the PDAC annual conference in Toronto

By Divya Rajagopal

TORONTO (Reuters) -Pierre Lassonde, a Canadian mining industry veteran, has made an offer to invest in Teck Resources Ltd’s coal business, in a bid to thwart Glencore Plc’s hostile attempt to merge with Teck.

Vancouver-based Teck has rebuffed Swiss mining company Glencore’s $22.5 billon offer to combine the two companies and is instead pursing plans to separate its copper and coal business.

Teck last month pulled its initial business separation plan at the last minute after failing to secure enough shareholder support. Lassonde said that a separation of the coal and copper business can be done in different forms and does not necessarily have to be a cash purchase.

“We have put forward one model for this, they (Teck) said they like what they see but we don’t know what others have offered,” Lassonde told Reuters.

Teck declined to comment.

Glencore has offered a cash component for Teck’s coal business worth C$8 billion ($5.98 billion). When asked how the deal would be financed, Lassonde said there is no shortage of billionaires in Canada who would come together to ensure that Teck remains a Canadian enterprise.

“There is no shortage of Canadian money to get the deal done,” he said.

    Canadian government officials have said that Glencore’s proposed offer would receive tough scrutiny, and it has faced opposition from some business lobby groups and opposition Conservative leaders. Canada Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland of the Liberal Party in April said that companies such as Teck should remain in Canada.

Glencore said on April 27 that its takeover bid still stands, adding it was willing to engage with Teck’s board to improve its proposal structure, but would still make an offer directly to shareholders if there was no response.

    A source close to the matter said that an alternative offer for Teck’s steelmaking coal business might push the Swiss conglomerate to finally make an improved offer. 

Glencore declined to comment.

(Reporting by Divya Rajagopal in Toronto and Sourasis Bose in BengaluruAdditional reporting by Clara Denina in LondonEditing by Denny Thomas and Matthew Lewis)