Glencore steps up debt reduction plan

Glencore sign at HQ in Switzerland Image copyright Reuters

Mining company Glencore has set a new target to cut net debt as it tries to rebuild its financial position.

The aim to cut debt has now been set to between $16.5bn and $17.5bn (£12.5bn-£13.5bn) by the end of this year.

The attempt to further improve the company's balance sheet comes as it reported a 66% drop in first-half profit to $300m.

Glencore's half-year results showed it had been affected by turbulent commodity prices.

In March the aim was to cut debt to between $17bn and $18bn. Despite the fall in profits, the company said asset sales left it on track to cut debt.

"We have already largely achieved our asset disposals target of $4bn to $5bn with a diverse and material pool of asset sales' processes also ongoing," said chief executive Ivan Glasenberg.

On Wednesday, the company also announced the planned sale of all future output of gold and a 30% stake in its Ernest Henry copper mine in Australia to Evolution Mining for A$880m ($670m) to help pay down debt.

Edward Sterck, metals and mining research analyst at BMO Capital Markets, said: "The underlying results are broadly in line with our forecast, the further asset sales are a positive here."

Difficult time

Glencore, along with the rest of the mining industry, has had a tough few years.

In September last year, Glencore's shares dived after a note from analysts at Investec said its equity value could be "eliminated", although Glencore responded that it was "operationally and financially robust".

When Glencore listed on the London market in 2011, it priced its shares at 530p. However, since then, its share price has struggled.

Following the Investec note and plummeting commodity prices, the company put a recovery plan in place. It scrapped paying shareholders a dividend, began selling assets and slashed spending.

Investors will be hoping for the reinstatement of the regular dividend payment after chief financial officer Steve Kalmin said it was "likely" the company would return to a full-year dividend. Glencore paid an interim dividend of six cents a share last August.

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