Readers of Corporate Tool will recall my fondness for the flurry of transactions this year in the mining sector, which has seen an unprecedented level of consolidation and hotly-contested deals. Those who followed this summer's trials and travails will recall the following:
1. Inco and Phelps Dodge agree to merge, with Inco acquiring Falconbridge as part of what is to be a 3-way deal.
2. Falconbridge is not to be had so easily, ultimately succumbing to Xstrata after a protracted bidding war.
3. Inco, reeling from its loss in the Falconbridge bidding, breaks off its agreement with Phelps Dodge and falls into the arms of CVRD - but not without extracting a nice premium in yet another bidding war.
This morning comes the news that Phelps Dodge, unable to bulk up as planned, has sold to Freeport-McMoRan for $26B. This represents a 33% premium on top of what has already been a nice run-up on the back of record copper prices; Phelps shares were at an all-time high before the deal was announced. A nice time to sell, and this summer's series of interloping offers obviously led Freeport to lob in what is sure to be a knockout proposal (further boosted by being two-thirds cash).
Besides the valuations and the bidding intrigue in all these deals, what's fascinating is the speed with which consolidation is causing even old-line companies in an old-line industry to lock up: Phelps has been an independent enterprise since the 1830's!