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Rio Tinto sells Alcan Cable for $185-million

Exterior photo showing the the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan in Montreal, February 2, 2012.

Christinne Muschi/Christinne Muschi / The Globe and Mail

Global mining giant Rio Tinto is selling Alcan Cable and its three Canadian operations to U.S.-based General Cable Corp. for $185-million (U.S.).

The London-based company said the sale of the 110-year-old subsidiary is expected to close later this year after receiving required regulatory clearances.

Alcan Cable employs 1,051 people at five manufacturing facilities, a distribution centre in Woodbridge, Ont., a North American technology development centre and an operation in China.

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In addition to production plants in Missouri and Pennsylvania, Alcan Cable operates manufacturing facilities in Jonquiere and Shawinigan, Que., that employ 60 and 175 employees respectively.

The Quebec plants make electrical and mechanical aluminum alloy redraw rod used in building wire and utility cables, along with aluminum overhead conductors and building wire.

General Cable is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Highland Heights, Ky., that makes copper, aluminum and fibre optic wire and cable products for the energy, industrial, specialty and communications markets around the world.

It earned nearly $84-million on $5.87-billion of revenue last year. Prior to the deal being announced, it expected volume of metal used to increase by 3 to 7 per cent and adjusted operating income to increase to between $270-million and $300-million.

Chief executive Gregory Lampert said the deal will bring its customers "cost reductions, technology and product breadth."

"We will have additional production capacity in North America and globally to better meet your needs as the economy moves into recovery and eventual growth mode," he stated in a note to clients.

General Cable said the acquisition of Alcan Cable will allow it to enter the North American aluminum building wire market and add products for sale to its current customers.

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Alcan Cable was founded in 1902, not long after Canada's first aluminum smelter opened in Shawinigan. It provided the cable to transmit electricity to Montreal.

Its U.S. presence was started in 1939 with its first fabricating plant opening in 1963.

In 2010, Rio Tinto sold 61 per cent of Alcan Engineered Products, excluding Alcan Cable, to Apollo Global Management and the Fonds Strategique d'Investissement.

Rio Tinto retained a 39-per-cent stake even though its sold the downstream assets that were part of the $38.1-billion acquisition of Alcan in 2007.

The company declined to provide the sales or profit earned by Alcan Cable.

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