Mining giant BHP pledges to invest in South Africa economy as it seeks support for Anglo bid

LONDON (AP) — Australian mining giant BHP Group on Wednesday pledged to invest in South Africa’s economy as it seeks support for a 38.6 billion pound ($49.3 billion) bid to acquire Anglo American, which was founded in the country more than a century ago and remains one of its biggest employers.

London-based Anglo American last week rejected BHP’s latest offer, raising concerns about its complex structure. The proposed deal would require Anglo American to spin off two South African units, Anglo American Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore, as BHP seeks to focus on copper and other products expected to benefit from a transition to green energy.

BHP on Wednesday said the South African government and economy would benefit from Anglo Platinum and Kumba Iron becoming independent companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It also made a series of commitments to invest in South Africa and support charitable projects in the country.

“BHP believes that its proposal will contribute to South Africa and allow the benefits of South African mining to be shared with more South African stakeholders,” the company said in a statement.

The latest chapter in the takeover battle came as South Africans went to the polls in the country’s most important election since the end of white minority rule 30 years ago. High unemployment, lingering inequality and poverty affecting the Black majority are key issues in an election that could see the governing African National Congress lose its parliamentary majority for the first time.

BHP said it would maintain current employment levels at Anglo American’s Johannesburg office and keep funding the company’s charitable commitments in South Africa if the takeover goes ahead.

The company also promised to list its own shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and establish a mining center of excellence to support research and development and promote the country’s mining industry.

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