Mineweb reports that the CEO of Xstrata, Mike Davis said I have no issue with Xstrata being bought by another company, if that provides the best value for shareholders. I have no issue personally with riding off into sunset if that what makes the deal happen.
That statement is enough to make me rush out to sell my Rio Tinto shares and use the money to buy Xstrata shares.
The approach is so different from that adopted by the London-based directors of Rio Tinto. It is nigh on impossible to tell if they are holding out resisting BHP Billiton's takeover bid in order to increase shareholder value or protect their own jobs and high incomes.
Let us take a look at what BHP's Marius Kloppers says of his rejecting prospective partner:
- On every metric I can envisage they (Rio Tinto) have been beaten.
- They have missed the boat to China, they are missing the boat on energy.
- It must be terrible that every quarter BHP outperforms and that has been the case for seven years.
- Rio are energy-short and they will not benefit from the 80 per cent margin in that business. I don't know what Tom was thinking.
As shareholders and investors, we need not concern ourselves with the personal issues behind these statements. Rather, we should be asking if they indicate that Rio Tinto is ripe for takeover, new management, and a new phase of profit and share-value increase; or if Rio Tinto's directors truly are reluctant to yield because the company is undervalued by the Australian bidder.
Let us take a look at what Rio Tinto says in response (I paraphrase reports readily available on the web.)
- On Energy and China: The comments are hard to understand; Rio Tinto is a significant energy producer through its coal and uranium business and was an early mover in China.
- On tracking the share ratio, Paul Skinner said: I personally don't think that daily inspection of that ratio serves necessarily a great purpose., (Paul Skinner reportedly went on to say that focusing on the March quarter production reports of the two companies was taking a short-term view in a long-term business, and that Rio Tinto was maintaining its strong growth momentum.)
I get the impression that the BHP versus Rio Tinto debate is boiling down to a battle of wills, a tussle over unquantifiable numbers, a scrap about random events affecting the performance of a chaotic system. I get the impression this debate stems from world views based on different cultures, climates, and generations. Like the United States presidential primaries: everybody has a sound opinion, none based on certainty and all likely to be shred to pieces by an unpredictable future.
Thus as an individual investor, my instinct is to leave the battle ground, the playfield of intergenerational struggle and go where an honest opinion prevails. I repeat: I have no issue personally with riding off into sunset if that what makes the deal happen. Sounds good to me if I profit thereby.