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Copper recycler Aurubis looking to divest flat rolled products unit in 2020

European copper major Aurubis AG aims to dispose of its noncore flat rolled products division in 2020; talks with potential buyers are already in advanced stages, Reuters reported Dec. 11, citing CEO Roland Harings.

In February, EU competition authorities vetoed a potential sale of the division to Wieland-Werke AG amid concerns that the deal would push prices up for consumers.

The flat rolled products division supplies the construction, automotive, electronics and telecommunications sectors. It has primary production sites in Germany, the U.S., the Netherlands and Finland and has copper processing centers in Italy, the U.K. and Slovakia.

The Hamburg, Germany-based copper recycler is targeting more takeovers, especially in the recycling sector, potentially in North America and Asia. In May, Aurubis signed an agreement to acquire materials recycler Metallo Group for €380 million.

On Dec. 11, Aurubis recommended a dividend of €1.25 per share, down from €1.55 in the prior year.

The company posted pretax operating earnings in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 of €67 million, a 3% yearly increase. However, full-year earnings plummeted 42% to €192 million, driven by one-off impairment losses in the flat rolled products segment and maintenance shutdowns.

Copper concentrate throughput for the quarter was down 7% at 566,000 tonnes, with cathode output down 10% at 257,000 tonnes.

On a yearly basis, flat rolled products and specialty wire output for the quarter fell 18% to 47,000 tonnes and was down 11% for the full year to 210,000 tonnes.