CoE Pensions Board urges peers to reflect on impact of mining company takeover

Pardon the Interruption

This article is just an example of the content available to mallowstreet members.

On average over 150 pieces of new content are published from across the industry per month on mallowstreet. Members get access to the latest developments, industry views and a range of in-depth research.

All the content on mallowstreet is accredited for CPD by the PMI and is available to trustees for free.

The Church of England Pensions Board has issued a statement about potential takeover bids for Anglo American, saying the world needs more not fewer mining firms like Anglo. On Tuesday, the dual-listed company proposed to demerge parts of the business after rejecting a takeover bid by rival BHP.  

Anglo’s chief executive Duncan Wanblad told investors on Tuesday that following the completion of an asset review, he would restructure the company to achieve “portfolio simplification and growth”. Anglo plans to limit its assets to copper mines in South America – the metal is a key component for renewable energy technologies – iron ore in South Africa and Brazil, and crop nutrients. It is set to divest from coking coal, steel and nickel while selling the platinum business and diamond subsidiary De Beers.  

“These actions represent the most radical changes to Anglo American in decades,” he said, and added that the changes will be implemented “in a manner that is respectful of our employees, host communities and countries”. 

The CoE Pension Board is a shareholder in the mining company and issued a statement in response to any takeover bids, making clear that this was not to do with the particular companies making them. 

Instead, it cited long-term risks posed to asset owners’ interests. “Anglo is a globally significant diversified mining company that operates in key parts of the world, particularly in some important emerging and developing markets, and seeks to do so to the highest standards. Losing Anglo as a distinct entity may serve short-term financial interests, but as an asset owner we are not convinced that such consolidation will serve our long-term interests as a pension fund,” the scheme said.  

It called for “greater reflection by institutional investors as to what is at stake and at risk of being lost”, arguing that mining plays an important role in coming decades as it provides resources for the low carbon transition and other industrial activity.  

“We question if losing Anglo is the right market response. We need more companies like Anglo that are willing to grasp the opportunities of operating in emerging and developing markets such as Africa, not fewer,” the £3.5bn scheme said. 

As a UK pension fund, the church scheme said it was keen that the London Stock Exchange Group remains a premium market for mining companies, and added: “Rather than the prospect of losing Anglo, it would perhaps be more appropriate to consider what enhanced role Anglo and other companies could play in benefitting local and national populations, generating broader long-term value and supporting economic development in mineral rich countries.”   

Others are also keen that Anglo's commitments on climate and communities are not watered down through corporate activity, saying it should be scrutinised.

Faith Ward, chief responsible investment officer at local authority pension pool the Brunel Pension Partnership, said: "We have had constructive engagement with Anglo American. We would be concerned if consolidation diluted the more ambitious aspects of their strategy on climate risk. We believe the consolidation proposals warrant deeper exploration by responsible stewards." 

Anglo did not comment directly on CoE Pension Board’s statement but pointed to a remark by Wanblad on Tuesday, who said: “Our proven and differentiated capabilities within Anglo American, our global relationship networks and our longstanding reputation as a responsible mining company will help us unlock numerous... opportunities in the jurisdictions where our experience and track record are most valuable and most valued, namely in South America and Southern Africa.”  

Are you concerned about Anglo American being ‘swallowed’? 

More from mallowstreet