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Anglo approached by Russians, others over AngloGold holding

Anglo American Plc's CEO, Tony Trahar, said the company has been approached by Russian investors and other companies over its 42% stake in AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the world's second-biggest gold producer.

„We've had discussions with many parties, including the Russians,” Trahar said today in an interview in London. London's Sunday Times newspaper reported on February 18 that Russia's OAO Polyus may buy the stake held by Anglo American Plc. It didn't say where it got the information.

Anglo American declined to confirm or deny the report at the time. In October 2005, Trahar said Anglo American planned to sell its 51% stake in Johannesburg-based AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., and in March the company reduced its stake to 42%, currently worth 37 billion rand ($5.2 billion). Anglo American has said it will dispose of its remaining stake within three years.

An acquisition by Polyus wouldn't be the first investment by a Russian company in South Africa's gold industry, the world's biggest. OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, which spun off Polyus in January 2006, sold its one fifth stake in Gold Fields Ltd., the biggest South African rival to AngloGold, in March last year. It had bought the stake from Anglo American two years earlier. Barrick Gold Corp. is the world's biggest gold producer. (Bloomberg)