1. Should the CEOs of these mining companies be held accountable for the fact that commodity prices have dropped precipitously while operating costs have soared?
2. Should Albanese be held responsible for the fact that the Chinese market did not open as he predicted and that the price of aluminum dropped precipitously?
3. Because of the $14 billion write-down, should Albanese be forced to forfeit his lucrative stock options?
4. The Rio Tinto executives made massive errors in judgment that cost the company billions. Were they treated too gently?
5. Since several companies have written off massive amounts paid for their acquisitions, were each of their managements wrong for specific reasons, or were there common factors affecting them all? If so, what were they?
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are strategies that help companies to grow in size rapidly. However, some incredibly questionable M&A decisions were reported in the mining industry in 2012 and 2013, including:
• Canadian gold mining company Kinross Gold Corp. acquired some African mines when it purchased Red Back Mining Inc. for $7.1 billion in 2010. In 2012, Kinross wrote off $2.5 billion of its investment in Red Back and an additional $3.2 billion in 2013 as the costs of developing these African mines increased.
• In December 2012, Vale SA, the Brazilian metal and mining company, wrote down the value of a mine in northern Brazil by $2.85 billion, as operating costs soared. The book value of the investment as of September 30 was $3.78 billion.
•In May 2013, Glencore, the Swiss mining giant, paid $44.6 billion to merge with Xstrata. Three months later, in August, the company wrote down its investment in Xstrata by $8.8 billion as a result of a decrease in commodity prices.
•The $14 billion write-down taken in January 2013 by the British-Australian multinational mining giant, Rio Tinto is described below.