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Noranda acquires metal company

Thursday, March 10, 2005

MARSTON - One deal is off and another is being finalized. Neither, said officials with Noranda Aluminum in Marston, will impact local plant operations.

According to an article in the New York Times, Noranda, the largest Canadian mining company, announced Wednesday it would acquire the 41 percent the nickel producer Falconbridge LTD it does not already own, in a stock swap worth $2.49 billion.

At the same time, Noranda, based in Toronto with an aluminum production facility in New Madrid's St. Jude Industrial Park near Marston, said it had ended negotiations to be acquired by China Minmetals, which is owned by the Beijing government. In September, China Minmetals offered to buy Noranda for about $4.7 billion.

Following the announcement by the company, Keith Gregston, Noranda president and general manager at the Marston facility, said it would be "business as usual" for the local operation. He did note both Falconbridge and Noranda would be stronger as a result of the acquisition.

The article in the New York Times stated the proposed takeover by China Minmetals created a political uproar in Canada. "The notion that one of the nation's leading corporations, let alone one in the critical resource sector, could come under indirect control of the Chinese government, was loudly protested," the article stated.

While negotiations between the companies eventually failed, Noranda officials have stated they hope to develop a "strategic alliance" with China Minmetals and acknowledged the company could eventually purchase some small part of Noranda's operations.

With an hourly workforce of 889 and 230 salaried workers who operate the Marston plant 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Noranda is Southeast Missouri's largest employer. In 2004 Noranda's Marston facility produced 538 million pounds of aluminum which is shipped throughout the United States and into Mexico.