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Anglo American Profit Rises, Delays Tarmac Sale

Miner Anglo American posted a 6 percent rise in full-year profit on Wednesday, in line with forecasts, and said a global credit crisis would delay the disposal of its road surface business Tarmac.

Anglo, the world's fourth-biggest diversified mining group by market capitalization, said underlying profit rose to $5.8 billion from $5.47 billion in 2006.

The result was exactly in line with the average forecast of 11 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates. Their forecasts for underlying profit – which strips out the effects of minority interests and special items -- ranged from $5.51 billion to $6.24 billion.

Anglo -- which produces copper, platinum and iron ore -- said the credit crisis was making difficult its disposal of UK-based Tarmac, which was due to be sold by June.

"It has been decided not to launch the marketing phase of the sale process until current credit market conditions improve," Anglo said in a statement. "It is therefore unlikely that a sale will be completed within the originally envisaged timetable."

The group announced the sale of Tarmac last August, saying it was the group's last major piece of restructuring as it moves to focus on its metals and minerals businesses. Analysts estimated that Tarmac could fetch over $6 billion.

Anglo did not announce a further share buy back after several previous such programs to return cash to shareholders.

At its interim results in August, Anglo pledged to return a further $4 billion to shareholders and it said on Wednesday that programme was one-third completed.

Anglo said that over the past two years, it had returned a total of $14.5 billion in capital to shareholders.

Although the outlook for the world economy was uncertain, low inventories and constrained supply of many commodities was expected to keep the sector strong, Anglo said.

"Global commodity demand remains strong and seems likely to remain so throughout 2008," it said.

Anglo shares, which have surged 34 percent over the past month, and were 0.4 percent higher Wednesday.