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WORLD WATCH

September 29, 1993|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Shuffling South African Assets: In the first major corporate action involving South Africa since the United States and other nations moved last week to drop sanctions against it, three of the world's largest natural-resources companies swapped $1.4 billion in assets to focus their key interests outside South Africa. Anglo American Corp., South Africa's largest company, said it and De Beers Centenary AG, the diamond cartel's main operation outside of South Africa, will swap mining and other assets in South America, Asia, Australia and Europe with Minorco SA. All three companies are controlled by the Oppenheimer family. Minorco, headquartered in Luxembourg, is a mining giant that Anglo American set up to skirt trade restrictions against South African companies. Some analysts were skeptical of the companies' statements that they were moving to take advantage of South Africa's renewed opportunities for involvement in international business, suggesting that the move may be aimed at shielding assets from seizure by a new South African government.

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