In the final analysis, this acquisition -- the viability of which was originally open to question -- occurred with all the slickness of a hot knife sliding through a pat of butter. On Monday, in what clearly was a full day's work, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
New Orleans-based Freeport had made its $25.9 billion bid for Phelps in November, but in part because Phelps was about twice its suitor's size, some observers were skeptical that Freeport would be able to get its intended bride to the altar. Indeed, it was expected that other copper producers, such as Australia's BHP Billiton
But no other offer was forthcoming, and the Freeport-Phelps combination has now been completed. It will be paid for by the combination of three new credit facilities totaling $11.5 billion and a pair of stock offerings. On Monday the company initiated one public offering of 35 million of its common shares and another for 10 million shares of mandatory convertible preferred stock priced at $100 a share.
With the acquisition now complete, Freeport will move its corporate headquarters from New Orleans to Phoenix, where Phelps Dodge has been located. The move will permit it to be closer to the Phelps copper and molybdenum mines in Arizona. Phelps' CEO and its CFO will retire, and the combined company will be headed by James Moffett, who will remain Freeport's chairman, while Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson also will retain his position. Phelps president and COO Timothy Snider will serve in those same capacities at Freeport-McMoRan, and Freeport CFO and treasurer Kathleen Quirk will retain her positions.
All this is taking place amid an atmosphere of unusually strong copper prices. After reaching a record $4.04 a pound last May on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, prices generally declined late in the year, with some observers predicting they could sink to $2.00. But yesterday, following an 8.2% jump last week alone, the Comex price closed above $3.02, as fears of a slowdown in Chinese demand for the base metal continued to abate.
The new company, which is expected to generate revenues near $17 billion this year, will be characterized by long-lived reserves and a solid management team. For these reasons, along with its significant position in the production of copper, molybdenum, gold, and silver, the combined company probably should also be characterized by attention from Foolish investors.
For related Foolishness:
- A Copper Marriage Worth Noting
- Phelps Dodge's Screaming Swan Song
- Investing in Your Backyard: The Big Easy
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