Maaden eyes global acquisitions in base metals, says CEO
Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), the Gulf's largest mining company, is seeking to strengthen its presence in the base metals market through global acquisitions, Bloomberg TV reported on Monday, citing acting chief executive officer Darren Davis.
"We would like to grow in base metals. We have a small copper mine in Saudi Arabia, but we would like to be much bigger in copper. We think it is the 'great metal' for the future, so we are looking at how we can perhaps buy into some assets overseas," he noted.
The company, which is set to become the third largest producer of phosphate globally, is also working on a plan to reinforce its market positioning in the phosphate market to ensure access to all the key markets in the world, he added.
Meanwhile, Davis admitted the mining giant has been working on repositioning its debt portfolio.
"The market in Saudi Arabia has been fantastic particular for blue chips for the past 12 months. So all we have been doing is refinancing."
Maaden has refinanced two of its aluminum companies in the last nine months. It renewed a syndicated loan in December 2017 and issued its first sukuk in Q1 2018.
"We have a relatively large debt load, and as the market is very benign now, we have been able to reduce the pricing and have flexible terms on our debts," he revealed.
In February, the Tadawul-listed company said it plans to pay off $588 million in debt in 2018. Sixty percent of its long-term loans are from commercial banks, 33 percent from the Public Investment Fund, and seven percent from the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, it said.
Sharing his outlook on various metals, Davis said phosphate was looking "reasonably positive" and has been on Maaden’s growth trajectory since last year.
"We think maybe later in the year it could be little weaker as more supply comes in the market."
While “market uncertainty” has weighed on gold prices, which have softened quite a bit in the last six months, demand foraluminum remains net positive globally.
“Any big trade action or tariffs will impact prices,” Davis added.