Glencore shares jump on debt reduction targets, spending cuts

JOHANNESBURG (REUTERS) - Glencore has increased its debt reduction target and deepened its capital spending cuts, stepping up its response to lower commodity prices and boosting its battered shares by 12 per cent on Thursday.

The mining and trading company said it was targeting net debt of between US$18 billion (S$25.03 billion) and US$19 billion by the end of 2016, against a previous target of US$20 billion.

Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg, a veteran of commodities trading who took the company public only four years ago, had to bow to shareholder pressure in September by agreeing to cut Glencore's debts and protect its credit rating.

The London-listed company's net debt peaked at around US$30 billion, one of the highest in the industry, and prices for its key products copper and coal have been languishing at multi-year lows.

After been spurred into action less than three months ago, Mr Glasenberg said on Thursday the company had accelerated its debt cutting after commodity prices tumbled further.

Glencore's debt-reduction plan involves asset sales, reducing capital expenditure, suspending dividend payments and raising US$2.5 billion of new equity capital.

Glencore is not the only such company having to scale back radically after prices tumbled.

Mining rival Anglo American said this week it would sell more assets, suspend dividends until the end of 2016 and whittle its business down to three divisions to cope with severe falls in commodity prices.

Platinum producer Lonmin was also struggling, even after its shareholders approved its deeply discounted US$400 million share issue to keep the company running.

Mr Glasenberg said the company had already cut debt by US$8.7 billion and was well placed to continue to be cash generative in the current environment, and at even lower commodity prices.