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Rio Tinto Close To Unloading Alcan For $2B

Mining giant is close to finalizing sale of its Alcan Packaging business to Amcor for $2 billion -- a big chunk of Rio Tinto’s plan to sell assets to slash debt by more than $10 billion.

SYDNEY (AP) -- Rio Tinto is close to finalizing the sale of its Alcan Packaging business to Amcor for $2 billion -- a big chunk of the mining giant's plans to sell assets to slash its debt by more than $10 billion.

Rio Tinto said in a statement Wednesday it was formally taking up Amcor's offer to buy Alcan Packaging's global pharmaceuticals, global tobacco and food divisions in Europe and Asia, under a deal first announced in August.

EU antitrust regulators approved the plan earlier this month after telling Amcor, an Australian packaging company, it must sell two pharmaceutical packaging plants. That was to eliminate concern the deal would knock out a major rival and make Amcor a very strong European supplier for laminated drug sachets and the foil used for pill blister packs.

The deal is awaiting clearance by U.S. regulators.

London-based Rio Tinto has sold some $10.3 billion in assets since February 2008 to help pay off significant debt it built up buying Canadian aluminum giant Alcan for $38 billion in 2007. Selling non-core Alcan assets, such as the packaging operation, has been a key part of the debt strategy.

Melbourne-based Amcor is the world's largest maker of PET packaging commonly used in drink bottles and other containers, and makes wine bottles, cardboard boxes and a wide range of other packaging products. Alcan Packaging specializes in making packaging for food and beverages, as well as pharmaceutical, medical, beauty and tobacco products.

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