There's news today that international commodities trading giant Glencore has upped its bid for mining company Xstrata. This $57-billion deal -- between two companies most people have never heard of -- would be the biggest global merger of the year.
And it seems former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had a hand in the negotitaions and has done very nicely out of it. It's reported that he made $1 million for three hour’s work.
More about Tony Blair in a minute. But first, here's the deal: Glencore is the world's biggest commodities trader. It wants to merge with Xstrata, which mines a wide range of industrial metals like copper and also coal. Together they'd create the world's fourth biggest miner. Critics say this could lead to higher metal prices. But shareholders in Xstrata were not happy with the merger either.
"Glencore is still picking up this company very much on the cheap," said analyst Rupert Nathan. "When their new project pipeline is rolled out over the next company of years, their earnings should increase at least threefold."
A key Middle Eastern investor has been holding out for a better deal. And this is where Tony Blair comes in thanks to his excellent contacts as a Middle East peace envoy. After three hours of talks on Friday, Blair helped extract an improved offer for Xtsrata shareholders.
Sources close to the former Prime Minister insist he didn't get a million dollars for his pains. It was closer to a quarter of a million and the money will be ploughed into one of his charitable foundations.