The European Commission yesterday approved Glencore’s acquisition of Xstrata, conditional on the termination of Glencore’s off-take arrangements with Nyrstar in Europe and divesting its 7.8% stake in Nyrstar.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-1252_en.htm
As a reminder, Nyrstar and Glencore entered into the agreement in November 2008,commencing January 2009 with a term of five years. In June 2011, both parties agreed to extend the arrangement until the end of 2018. Under the agreement, Nyrstar is selling commodity grade zinc and lead metal to Glencore at LME prices plus market-based, annual agreed premiums. The off-take agreement allowed Nyrstar to direct its focus on zinc and lead alloys. The main benefits to Nyrstar from the agreement are prompt payments and lower inventories, resulting into lower working capital requirements.
From discussions with the company, we understand that the volumes sold under the off-take agreement have increased to current levels close to 50% of its total production. The European leg of the agreement corresponds to approximately 350kt of zinc p.a.
An end to the off-take agreement would result into higher working capital requirements at Nyrstar on increased inventories and receivables. However, as the agreement still runs until the end of 2018, Glencore will have to negotiate on a mutual agreement with Nyrstar.
While the shares dived immediately after the announcement, we regard Nyrstar to be in a good negotiating position as it holds the key to the remedies required for EU approval of a multi-billion merger.
Now that the decision has been made public, Nyrstar can start formal discussions with Glencore on a proper termination of the off-take agreement. In addition, Nyrstar can now also start discussions with commodity traders interested in taking over the off-take agreement. As a reminder, recent press reports have suggested that Trafigura and Traxys are in the running.