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Former Alcan CEO Richard Evans.
Former Alcan CEO Richard Evans.
(MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS)

SEAN SILCOFF

Buy low, sell high and other lessons CEOs can learn from Alcan

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Amid the recent carnage in the mining and metals sector, many commentators have pointed to the granddaddy of foolish deals, Rio Tinto PLC’s $38-billion (U.S.) takeover in 2007 of Alcan Inc. just as aluminum prices were peaking. It’s a shame Alcan has come to represent the biggest disaster during an era of overpriced acquisitions after CEOs and boards misjudged the sustainability and fortitude of the commodities “supercycle.” If Alcan hadn’t been bought, it would have been the industry giant everyone would be holding up today as the one that played the bubble correctly.