Sterlite buys Asarco for $2.6 billion

India’s Sterlite Industries on Saturday agreed to buy the operating assets of bankrupt copper miner Asarco for $2.6 billion, the latest in the series of overseas acquisitions by Indian firms. Tuscon-based Asarco, the third largest copper maker in U.S. had total revenue of $1.9 billion in 2007, Sterlite, a unit of Vedanta Resources Plc, said in a statement.

“Asarco is a strategic fit with Sterlite’s existing copper business,” the Indian firm said in the statement.

On Friday a lawyer close to the deal had told Reuters in New York that Vedanta had signed a $2.6 billion deal to buy the assets of Asarco. Asarco, formerly known as American Smelting and Refining Co, produced 235,000 tonnes of refined copper in 2007 and its mines have an estimated reserve of 5 million tonnes of contained copper. It filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005 after it was sued for $1 billion over environmental and asbestos claim.

Sterlite, is India’s top non-ferrous metals and mining firm with interests in aluminium, copper, zinc and lead. The deal, subject to the approval of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court, will be funded through a mix of debt and existing cash, Sterlite said.

Last June, it had raised $1.75 billion in American depositary shares to pay for possible acquisitions and cut debt.

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