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Herbert Smith Freehills has advised leading Japanese trading company ITOCHU Corporation (ITOCHU) on the A$250 million sale of its 5% economic interest in the Worsley Alumina bauxite mining and alumina refinery located near Boddington in Western Australia, to Press Metal Bintulu Sdn Bhd. (Press Metal). Press Metal is 80% owned by Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd, and 20% by leading Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corporation.

The transaction will see Press Metal acquire an economic interest in one of the largest and lowest-cost alumina producers in the world. Completion is subject to certain conditions and is expected to occur in early 2019.

The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by Australia Japan Practice lead partner Ian Williams with support from senior associates Natalie McDowell and Melissa Swain-Tonkin and solicitors Jenna Wong, Daniel Lau and graduate Tatsuki Shiratsuchi. ITOCHU was also advised by commercial advisor Simon Wensley.

Ian Williams said: “We are delighted to have assisted ITOCHU on the sale of its interest in a high quality Australian mining project. This deal is another great example of the high level of cross-border investment that we are seeing into the Australian mining sector.”

The deal is another example of the market-leading expertise of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Australia Japan Practice. Other recent examples include advising:

  • Toll Group on its A$8 billion scheme of arrangement with Japan Post;
  • Toyota Tsusho on its A$292 million acquisition of a 15% shareholding in Orocobre;
  • Japan Coal Development on its acquisition of a 5% interest in the Mt Pleasant Coal Project;
  • Mitsui on its A$602 million takeover of ASX-listed AWE;
  • Mitsui on its acquisition of a 22.5% shareholding in New Forests (A$2.8 billion of forestry assets under management);
  • Astro Japan Property Trust on its A$1.1bn sale of Japanese retail, office and residential properties to Blackstone;
  • Challenger on its A$401 million share placement to MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings;
  • JBIC and project financiers on INPEX’s A$33 billion Ichthys LNG project;
  • Marubeni and Osaka Gas on their joint acquisition of an 80% interest and project financing of APA Group power and midstream gas assets;
  • Suncorp Group Ltd on its A$725 million sale of its Australian life insurance business to TAL Dai-ichi Life Australia Pty Ltd; and 
  • ENGIE and Mitsui on the development of the Willogoleche Wind Farm.