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22 noviembre 2006

Freeport compra Phelps Dodge por $25.500M, puede espolear nuevas OPAs mineras

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.'s plan to buy Phelps Dodge Corp. for $25.5 billion may signal the mining industry's yearlong buying spree is far from over because of lofty metals prices and a shortage of new mines.

As many as 975 mining mergers and acquisitions worth more than $157 billion have been proposed this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The purchase by New Orleans-based Freeport would be the largest ever. There were 875 transactions worth $94 billion in all of last year.

``The whole sector is wide open,'' said Martin Potts, a mining analyst at Teather & Greenwood in London. ``I don't think M&A in mining has peaked. It's going to continue for a while.''

Metal prices are surging as China's booming economy fuels demand for the raw materials needed for cars, factories and appliances. China's gross domestic product expanded 10.4 percent in the third quarter, faster than any other major economy. Nickel and zinc have doubled this year. Copper has climbed more than 50 percent.

``So many mining companies are cash-rich at the moment, that it's inevitable that M&A activity in this sector will continue,'' said Rod Beddows, chief executive officer of London- based Hatch CF, a merger and acquisition advisor to the mining industry.

Mergers and acquisitions worldwide rose to a record $3.1 trillion this year, surpassing the previous high set in 2000 during the peak of the dot-com boom. Takeovers involving a steel or mining company accounts for 7 percent of all deals this year, up from 3 percent last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.