July 18th, 2024

As Teck weighs offers for coal business, likelihood of regulatory success a factor

By Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press on October 24, 2023.

The Teck Resources logo is seen on a podium before the company's special meeting of shareholders, in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, April 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Teck Resources Ltd. says it continues to evaluate offers put forward by prospective buyers of its steelmaking coal business with the hope of making a decision before the end of the year.

While CEO Jonathan Price said Tuesday he is pleased with the level of outside competition Teck has generated through its announced plan to separate its base metals business from its steelmaking coal business, the company will only accept a bid if it is confident regulators will approve the transaction.

“An important consideration will be the certainty of achieving separation, including receipt of the required regulatory approval,” Price told analysts on a conference call to discuss the Vancouver-based mining company’s third-quarter results.

“We have to consider the certainty of execution and the risks associated with any transaction … And ultimately, we will do what we believe is in the best interest of our shareholders having regard for those regulatory and approval requirements.”

Teck, Canada’s largest diversified mining company, has been working to split its coal assets from its base metal operations, in the hope of expanding its copper and zinc production to meet growing global demand for these metals, both of which are used in the production of electric vehicles and are considered to be key resources for the coming energy transition.

But a wrinkle was thrown into that plan earlier this year when Swiss commodities giant Glencore launched a $25-billion hostile takeover bid for Teck.

Teck’s board rejected Glencore’s original offer, but Glencore notched a victory of its own when Teck called off a shareholder vote on its plan to spin off its steelmaking coal operations into a separate company. It had become apparent Teck did not have the required support for its proposal, which Glencore had lobbied against.

Glencore has since presented a new offer to Teck’s board, proposing to acquire the steelmaking portion of the company’s business for an undisclosed amount of cash and has also said it remains willing to pursue its offer for all of Teck.

A number of other international companies are also believed to be interested.

But Glencore’s initial pursuit earlier this year ignited sentiments of economic nationalism, with B.C. Premier David Eby speaking out against the proposed deal and federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre urging the government to block any acquisition of Teck by Glencore.

The federal government itself said at the time it was watching the situation closely, and that any takeover bid for Teck would go through a rigorous approvals process.

Also on Tuesday, Teck raised the cost estimates for its QB2 copper project in Chile as it reported its latest quarterly results and lowered its production guidance for copper, molybdenum and steelmaking coal for the year.

The mining company said Tuesday it now expects the QB2 project to cost between US$8.6 billion and $8.8 billion, up from earlier guidance for between US$8.0 billion and US$8.2 billion.

Teck said delays in construction of the molybdenum plant and port offshore facilities, slower than planned demobilization progress and contract claims risk have put pressure on its capital cost guidance for project.

The update came as Teck said it earned a profit attributable to shareholders of C$276 million or 52 cents per diluted share for the quarter end Sept. 30 compared with a loss of C$195 million or 37 cents per share a year earlier.

The drop came as Teck faced lower prices for steelmaking coal and zinc, as well as reduced sales volumes from steelmaking coal and from Highland Valley Copper, partially offset by higher copper prices and a weaker Canadian dollar compared with a year ago.

Revenue totalled C$3.60 billion, down from C$4.26 billion in the same quarter last year.

On an adjusted basis, Teck says it earned 76 cents per diluted share, down from an adjusted profit of C$1.74 per diluted share a year earlier.

In its guidance, Teck lowered its annual copper production forecast to 320,000 to 365,000 tonnes from 330,000 to 375,000 tonnes for this year and cut its annual molybdenum production guidance to 3.0 million to 3.8 million pounds from 4.5 million to 6.8 million pounds.

It also said it expects steelmaking coal production this year to be between 23.0 million and 23.5 million tonnes, down from earlier expectations for 24.0 million to 26.0 million tonnes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TECK.B)

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