Déjà vu

CityPress - - Business -

BHP Bil­li­ton, and now Newco, are heirs to South Africa’s Gen­cor, one of the cor­po­ra­tions that arose in the apartheid era based on min­ing, but own­ing var­i­ous in­dus­trial con­cerns.

The Bil­li­ton in BHP Bil­li­ton was born from the first ma­jor “em­i­gra­tion” of a min­ing com­pany as apartheid ended.

In 1994, Gen­cor bought Bil­li­ton, which was then the min­ing sub­sidiary of in­ter­na­tional oil com­pany Royal Dutch Shell, for $2 bil­lion.

In 1997, Gen­cor pro­ceeded to sell all its best as­sets, ex­clud­ing its gold and plat­inum mines, to Bil­li­ton for shares, then listed Bil­li­ton in Lon­don.

This pre­ceded the bet­ter­known move of An­glo Amer­i­can to Lon­don in 1998.

The as­sets that ended up in Bil­li­ton in­cluded Alusaf, the alu­minium com­pany orig­i­nally set up by the In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion in the 1960s, which built the Bay­side, Hill­side and Mozal smelters.

It also in­cluded Ingwe Coal, which is to­day known as Bil­li­ton En­ergy Coal SA.

Added to that were Richards Bay Min­er­als (which mines ti­ta­nium diox­ide and has since been sold) as well as the ma­jor­ity stake in Sa­man­cor.

The Gen­cor gold mines ended up in Gold Fields and its plat­inum sub­sidiary, Im­pala Plat­inum, got un­bun­dled in 2002.

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