A pit head is seen at an Anglo American open pit mine in South Africa

Johannesburg - Anglo American said its decision to split some South African assets into a different subsidiary gives it the “flexibility” to dispose of its iron ore and export thermal coal assets should it decide to do so.

The split, which was partly announced in February without reasons being given, means that stakes in Anglo American Platinum and De Beers are now held in a unit called Anglo American South African Investments, while another subsidiary, Anglo South Africa Capital Proprietary, keeps the controlling stake in Kumba Iron Ore and the export coal mines.

“The transfer should not be construed as a signal of intent,” Anglo American South Africa head of corporate communications Pranill Ramchander said by email on Monday.

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In February last year, as Anglo announced a dramatic plan to sell more than half its mines, the company said it was looking to exit Kumba as part of a wider retreat from iron ore and coal. Since then, the company curtailed its divestment plan after a rally in the commodities it was seeking to exit helped remove the pressure on its balance sheet. Anglo is “happy to stick with” its iron-ore and export-coal mines in South Africa, CEO Mark Cutifani told Bloomberg Television on February 21.

“The retention of these assets remains a viable position given our recent operational and other improvements and our focus on continuing improvements as we go forward,” Ramchander said.

Anglo owns 77.7 percent of Anglo Platinum and about 70 percent of Kumba. The company last month reported profit doubled on cost cuts and rising metal prices.

BLOOMBERG