When a high-stakes deal falls apart, mind the spin. On Tuesday the UK’s Xstrata and Brazil’s Vale announced that takeover discussions had been terminated. Each miner said the deal would have realised “significant value for both sets of shareholders”. But where Xstrata stressed that walking away was by mutual agreement, Vale’s release said no such thing.
Both sides would like the market to think the other is to blame. But the arguments doing the rounds do not wash. For a start, it is unlikely that Glencore, a Swiss resources partnership with a 35 per cent shareholding in Xstrata, is the sole stumbling block. Glencore simply does not earn enough from commissions and services provided to Xstrata, relative to either its total profits or the value of its stake, to justify scuppering a deal to save these income streams.