x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Bahrain's Alba eyes India acquisition to meet demand for materials

Aluminium Bahrain wants to take a stake in a mine or refinery as its impending expansion increases its demand for raw materials, its chief executive said.

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), owner of the world's fourth-largest aluminium smelter, wants to take a stake in a mine or refinery as its impending expansion increases its demand for raw materials, its chief executive said.

The firm has begun feasibility work on a US$2.5 billion sixth production line which will increase annual capacity by 400,000 tonnes, when it comes online at the end of 2015, from its current production of 890,000 tonnes a year.

Given the additional demand for raw materials the new line will create, a focus on securing supplies at source instead of buying everything on the open market, becomes more important, Alba chief executive Tim Murray said on the sidelines of a conference in the capital Manama.

"For line six, it would probably be an interesting opportunity to look for maybe a joint venture partner or an equity swap," said Mr Murray, who was promoted from chief finance and supply officer in October.

Mr Murray added the firm may take a small stake in either a bauxite mine or a new or existing refinery, with India among likely options given its proximity to the Gulf Arab region in comparison with other candidates like Guinea.

Such decisions will form part of the expansion's feasibility study, which Bechtel Canada was appointed to undertake in December and which is due to be completed in the third quarter.

Much of the funding for the expansion will be raised from export credit agencies and both commercial and Islamic banks, with a bond also part of the package, Mr Murray said, adding the firm was currently securing a credit rating.

However, Alba has no plans to raise further corporate debt after securing bank loans in December to pay off a $169 million bond due to mature this month.

 

* Reuters