Mining giant Glencore has scrapped its $2.6bn (£1.97bn) dividend after slashing the value of its coal assets and plunging to a loss for the first half of the year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The miner and commodities trader was the FTSE 100’s biggest faller on Thursday after revealing a net loss of $2.6bn for the first half of the year, down from a profit of $226m a year ago.
Glencore’s shares tumbled by almost 7% to 184.26p, from almost 240p before the outbreak, after its chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, told investors it would be “inappropriate” to pay a shareholder dividend in 2020.
The company’s net debt has climbed by $2bn to $19.7bn, and it was forced to writedown $3.2bn on its assets including a $1bn downgrade to the value of its Colombian coal mines.
“The board has concluded that it would be inappropriate to make a distribution to shareholders in 2020, instead prioritising the acceleration of net debt reduction to within our target range,” Glasenberg said.
Glencore is the first major mining company to cut its dividend amid the coronavirus crisis, which has caused commodity market prices to tumble due to low demand for energy and other natural resources.
“The outlook remains highly uncertain in the short term, particularly from the risk of second wave infections in key economies,” Glasenberg added.
It is the second time Glencore has cut its dividend since the company floated on the FTSE index almost 10 years ago at a valuation of £38bn. The company is currently worth £24bn, while South African-born Glasenberg is preparing to appoint his successor after almost 18 years at the helm.
Mining rivals Rio Tinto and Anglo American have already assured investors that they will go ahead with shareholder payouts this year. Anglo’s dividend, which is based on 40% of its earnings, dropped 39% to$3.3bn while Rio Tinto raised its dividend to $2.5bn due to strong iron ore prices.
Glasenberg said the company was well positioned for a recovery in commodity markets and stands to benefit from the global shift to low-carbon technologies. Glencore is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and also produces copper and nickel which are used to make batteries for electric car.
Earlier this year, the Glencore boss said he expected the company’s carbon footprint to shrink by almost a third by 2035 due to the “natural depletion” of its coal reserves in Colombia, Australia and South Africa, but said he would not set climate targets for the company.