No Mo' Drama for Peru Copper

The past year or so has been quite the roller-coaster ride for investors in Peru Copper (AMEX: CUP  ) . This Canadian company has had a pretty interesting problem on its hands since acquiring the option to buy Toromocho, a highly prospective copper play, from a state-owned Peruvian entity back in 2003. The firm has access to a monster property, but it simply does not have the money to develop the billion-dollar project.

Last year, a bid from Southern Copper (NYSE: PCU  ) sent Peru Copper shares soaring, but Peru Copper's management subsequently declared that the bid was not made in good faith. Hell hath no fury like speculators scorned, and the Peru Copper shares were slashed in half by late 2006.

As an aside, I kind of feel like a middle-school gossip when talking about recent mining M&A: "Phelps Dodge liked Inco, but Inco just liked Phelps as a friend, and it went to the dance with Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (NYSE: RIO  ) instead. Then Phelps got asked out by Freeport-McMoran (NYSE: FCX  ) and they're, like, sooo cute together." Irritating as it may be, keeping up with all this hooking up is key to understanding what's going on in the global mining space.

The drama came back into Peru Copper's life on May 24 when it announced that it had signed an exclusivity agreement, implying that a deal was forthcoming. That was enough to get the speculative juices flowing again, taking the shares back up to around $7. Well, a few days later, the agreement expired with no deal in place, and shares went ker-splash. Finally, along came Chinalco, the state-owned parent of Aluminum Corp. of China (NYSE: ACH  ) , with a bid of $6.22 yesterday.

While yesterday's buyout news may be a disappointment given the higher price some market participants seem to have expected, it may be something of a relief as well. I imagine a lot of that has to do with one's timing relative to the stock's bottoming out in late 2006. Regardless, there's little time to dwell on the matter -- it's on to the next deal speculation, with news out the very same day that activist fund Atticus Capital is seeking out deals for portfolio holding Freeport-McMoRan. Never a dull moment for the basic metals these days.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't own shares in any company mentioned. There's, like, nothing dull about The Motley Fool's disclosure policy.


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