(Bloomberg) -- Former Barrick Gold Corp. Chief Executive Officer Aaron Regent is among the remaining bidders for Glencore Plc’s Lomas Bayas copper mine in the Chilean desert of Atacama, according to people familiar with the sale.
Regent, who runs Magris Resources Inc., is competing against a small number of Chilean-focused operators that have offered Glencore close to $1 billion for the mine, said two people who asked not to be identified as the sale is confidential. While the offering is at an advanced stage, Glencore may still decide to retain the asset, the people said.
The embattled Swiss commodity firm said in October it was in talks to sell Lomas Bayas and the Cobar copper mine in Australia after approaches from potential buyers. Together, the operations produce about 125,000 metric tons of copper a year, and Citigroup Inc. and UBS Group AG have said they may fetch as much as a combined $1 billion.
Both transactions are now in the second round, one person said. In December, Glencore said it sought to complete the sales during the first half and it had received "extensive interest" from Australian, Asian and South American strategic and financial investors.
The company declined to comment on bidders for the asset when contacted by Bloomberg. Regent was traveling and couldn’t be reached for comment.
In July, Barrick Gold agreed to sell its 50 percent stake in the Zaldivar copper mine in Chile to Santiago-based Antofagasta Plc for $1 billion. Some of the bidders in that sale may also be interested in Lomas Bayas, one of the people said. Lomas Bayas is an open-pit mine located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of the port of Antofagasta in Chile. It produces about 75,000 tons of copper cathode a year, according to Glencore.
Before his three years heading Barrick to 2012, Regent was CEO of Falconbridge Ltd., the owner of Lomas Bayas. Falconbridge was acquired in 2006 by Xstrata Plc, the mining company that was subsequently bought by Glencore in a $29 billion all-share deal in 2013.
Glencore is seeking to sell as much as $4 billion of assets to combat a rout in commodity prices that’s sparked concern from investors about its $30 billion debt load. It last month widened an existing debt reduction plan, targeting a cut in its borrowing to $18 billion by the end of this year.
“The sale process is in response to Glencore receiving a number of unsolicited expressions of interest for these mines,” the Baar, Switzerland-based company said in October. “This will allow potential buyers to bid to purchase either one or both of the mines and may or may not result in a sale.”
Copper sank to a six-year low on Tuesday of $4,350 a ton. It rose 0.9 percent to $4,392 on the London Metal Exchange on Wednesday. That’s less than half the record of $10,190 set in 2011. Glencore fell 0.2 percent to 71.87 pence in London. The stock is down 74 percent over the past year, giving the company a market value of about $15 billion.
Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is a senior independent non-executive director at Glencore.
--With assistance from Danielle Bochove.
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