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Mining Weekly 52/’12: Copper Wars continued, South African taxes

December 24, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories:

  • Copper Wars: First Quantum raises takeover bid for Inmet
    • Almost 2 years after the consolidation in the copper mining industry was accelerated by the proposed merger of Lundin and Inmet, First Quantum is trying to take over Inmet to form a major copper producer. Inmet’s board rejected two earlier, lower bids, and is now facing a $5.1bn takover offer.
    • The proposed Lundin-Inmet (Symterra) merger did not materialize because Equinox made a takeover bid for Lundin, after which Equinox was acquired by Barrick, which ‘won’ a bidding war with Minmetals.
    • In attempts to get the Cobre Panama project funded Inmet earlier this year sold a stream with most of the planned precious metals production to royalty company Franco Nevada for an investment of approx. $1bn.
    • Sources: Wall Street Journal; Financial Times; Newsday

    Copper Wars - Inmet - First Quantum

  • ANC will not nationalize South African mines, but wants to increase taxes
    • The ruling ANC party has turned down a plan to nationalize the mining sector in the country. At the same time the party leaders do call for increased taxes to keep a larger part of the benefits from natural resource extraction in the country. No details on the tax increases have been given yet.
    • Sources: The Globe and Mail; Wall Street Journal; Financial Times

Trends & Implications:

  • The copper industry is in a phase of consolidation because many large development projects are in the hands of relatively small miners who don’t have the funds to develop the large projects on their own. With project pipelines being scrutinized in the light of slowing demand growth, large miners are searching for and buying those projects that are actually going to make it, and small miners with and without good development projects try to team up to combine operating assets with strong development projects.
  • South Africa is already one of the countries with the highest effective tax rates to mining companies in the world, combining a 28% income tax rate with a 10% secondary tax, and adding mining royalties depending on the mineral mined. Further tax increases will make it very unlikely that foreign companies try to enter into the South African mining landscape, but will also make it more attractive for the large South African players to try to expand abroad.

2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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Copper wars: Lundin deciding on sale

May 13, 2011 Comments off

“Lundin Mining Corp. expects to say by the end of May whether it can reach a deal for the sale of the company as a whole or for the sale of individual assets. ‘We should be in a position…to give some indication (by the end of this month) in terms…of whether a transaction is likely to arise or not,’ Chief Executive Phil Wright said on a conference call Wednesday, following the release late Tuesday of the copper miner’s first-quarter results.
Lundin reported higher year-over-year earnings, but they still fell short of expectations as sales suffered from shipping disruptions. Toronto-based Lundin effectively put itself up for sale at the end of March, after a bid by Equinox Minerals Ltd. scotched plans for a merger with Inmet. Barrick Gold Corp. then agreed to buy Equinox, but Lundin executives said at the time they would continue to seek a buyer. Lundin is open to proposals to either sell the company outright or to sell off its assets piecemeal. But a sale or breakup of Lundin is ‘not a certainty,’ Mr. Wright said Wednesday.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, May 11 2011

Observations:

  • Lundin management is considering options to sell the company after they did not succeed in merging with Inmet and they decided not to cooperate with a sale to Equinox.
  • The company’s most valuable asset is a 25% stake in the world-class Tenke Fungurume project in Congo. Freeport-McMoran holds the majority stake in this project and has the first right to buy Lundin’s stake if Lundin decides to sell.

Implications:

  • The difference in taxation of an asset sale compared to a share sale will be an important consideration for Lundin, although the $100mln taxation hit of a total asset sale corresponds to only some 2% of the company value. Most likely it is easier to get a good price for individual assets (especially Tenke Fungurume) and in that way maximize total value for Lundin’s shareholders.
  • The actions by Lundin’s management to put the company up for sale seem to indicate mr. Lundin, the founder and chairman of the company, has given up the hope to keep his company independent or to merge it with another small party to create a larger player.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Copper wars: Barrick outbids Minmetals for Equinox

April 26, 2011 Comments off

“Barrick Gold Corporation announced today that it has entered into a support agreement with Equinox Minerals Limited for Barrick to acquire, through an all-cash offer, all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Equinox (including the shares represented by Equinox’s CHESS Depositary Interests) by way of a friendly take-over offer. The Offer is for C$8.15 per Equinox share in cash, or a total of approximately C$7.3 billion. The Offer represents a 30% premium based on Equinox’s closing share price on the Toronto Stock Exchange on February 25, 2011 (the last trading day before Equinox announced its intention to make a take-over bid for the common shares of Lundin Mining Corporation). The Offer also represents a 16% premium over the per share price under the offer for Equinox proposed by Minmetals Resources Ltd. on April 3, 2011 (which offer has not yet commenced).”

Source: Barrick Press Release, April 26 2011

Observations:

  • Barrick’s appearance as a white knight is a surprising turn in the copper wars, which started in January when Inmet and Lundin announced plans to merge into Symterra
  • Minmetals dropped its bid for Equinox the day after Barrick’s offer, saying that entering into a bidding war would destruct value for its shareholders.

Implications:

The bid by Barrick has two interesting implications: a continued uncertainty about consolidation in the copper industry; and changing dynamics in the relationship between gold and copper miners.

  • Consolidation in the copper industry: although Minmetals appears not to enter into a bidding war, other offers for Equinox might follow. The incentive to keep Barrick out of the copper industry might trigger players like Freeport-McMoran and Xstrata/Glencore to make an offer. Furthermore the players that started the copper wars, Inmet and Lundin, are available as takeover or merger targets again.
  • Copper vs. Gold dynamics: Barrick’s entrance into the copper arena is a significant change of strategy for the gold miner. Its Chilean copper operations did not account for more than 10% of revenue until now, but the copper output will be doubled by adding Equinox’ capacity. Operational synergies with Equinox’ assets in Zambia and Saudi Arabia will not be achieved, thus the acquisition is purely a move for increased diversification. Other gold miners, sitting on piles of cash, might follow Barrick’s strategy.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Copper wars: Minmetals in $6.5bn bid for Equinox

April 4, 2011 Comments off

“China’s Minmetals Resources has launched a C$6.3bn (US$6.5bn) unsolicited bid for Equinox Minerals, the Australian-Canadian copper miner which itself is in the throes of seeking to acquire Vancouver-based Lundin Mining. The bid is the largest-ever unsolicited takeover attempt by a Chinese mining company, at a time when China’s miners are increasingly seeking to go abroad.

Minmetals on Sunday night said its all-cash offer of C$7 per share, a 23 per cent premium to Friday’s closing price, was a superior alternative for Equinox shareholders to the Lundin acquisition, offering them ‘certainty of value and timing in realising their investments’.

The bid is conditional on Equinox dropping its offer for Lundin. Andrew Michelmore, Minmetals’ chief executive, said that the Chinese group was only interested in buying Equinox, which he said aligned with Minmetals’ strategy for growth and enhanced its global production portfolio.”

Source: Financial Times, April 4 2011

Observations:

  • Minmetals is the third stage in the developing copper wars for consolidation in the industry. In the first stage Lundin and Inmet proposed a merger of equals named Symterra. In the second stage this merger was derailed by a takeover attempt of Lundin by Equinox.
  • Minmetals is one of the most active Chinese companies in foreign investment, buying most of the assets of Australian OZ Minerals to form Minerals and Metals Group (MMG) in 2009 for $1.4bln. It appears Minerals and Metals Group and Equinox will be combined. MMG is mainly run by western managers.

Implications:

  • For most shareholders the all-cash offer of Minmetals will be preferable to the takeover of Lundin, which would increase the gearing of the company to dangerous levels. Equinox’ management might be able to get a slightly better price from Minmetals, but it is unlikely that the company will stay independent.
  • The announcement of Minmetals comes on the same day the World Copper Conference kicks off in Santiago. Many of the industry’s CEOs are gathered for this event. Also today, Chinalco announced its intention to expand the scope of activities from aluminium to other commodities, including copper. It is unlikely that other state-controlled Chinese companies will come with a competing offer for Equinox, but the meetings around the Copper Conference might trigger other M&A developments in the industry.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Lundin and Inmet abandon proposed merger

March 30, 2011 Comments off

“Lundin Mining Corporation and Inmet Mining Corporation jointly announced today that they have terminated the arrangement agreement dated January 12, 2011 between them in accordance with its terms.

As a result, the formerly announced Special Meetings of Shareholders of both Inmet and Lundin Mining, scheduled for April 4, 2011, are cancelled. The parties have agreed that Inmet’s right to a break fee of $120 million, in accordance with the arrangement agreement, will be preserved in connection with the unsolicited offer of Equinox Minerals Limited to acquire Lundin Mining.”

Source: Inmet Press Release, March 30 2011

Observations:

  • Continuation of the merger became highly unlikely after the government of Panama did not give permission to coal-fire the power plant for Inmet’s flagship Cobre Panama project. Any alternative source of power will reduce project value by over 10%, causing a material change to the proposed merger agreement. Still Inmet will receive $120mln because the breakup is attributed to the Equinox offer.
  • Lundin advised its shareholders to reject the competing offer by Equinox last week. Key arguments mentioned in the explaining circular are: inadequate pricing; high leverage of resulting company; potential shortage of cash for investments; and increased geo-political risk. However, mr. Lundin commented that he would be willing to sell a an adequate price.

Implications:

  • Equinox refers in its circular to a 64% premium paid since 2004 in large mining takeovers. This reference could be seen as a counterbid to the 26% pre-announcement premium of Equinox’ offer. Increasing the premium to approx. 40% (to $9.00/share) will convince most shareholders to tender their shares if the financial risk can be sufficiently covered.
  • No competing bidders for Lundin have emerged and Lundin does not report looking for alternatives at this moment. As Equinox is stretching its financial capacity with this deal, a competing bidder might be able to take over Lundin by offering only slightly more than a potential sweetened Equinox bid.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Copper wars: Equinox, Lundin & Inmet

March 1, 2011 Comments off

“African-focused copper miner Equinox Minerals (EQN.TO) offered C$4.8 billion ($4.9 billion) to buy Canada’s Lundin Mining (LUN.TO) in an unsolicited bid that threatens to scuttle Lundin’s rival C$9 billion tie-up with Inmet Mining. The cash and shares bid could kick off a bidding war for the base metal miner as near record copper prices and expected supply shortages spurs another round of consolidation in the global resources sector, analysts said.

The proposed bid comes just over a month after Lundin and Inmet Mining Corp (IMN.TO), a copper miner with operations in Spain, Turkey and Finland, agreed to combine and create a new Canadian copper mining major called Symterra, worth about C$9 billion ($9.2 billion).”

Source: Reuters, February 28 2011

Observations:

  • Equinox offers a combination of cash and shares, worth C$8.10 per share of Lundin; a 26% premium over current share price. This is more or less the price to which Lundin’s shares increased after the January 12 announcement of the merger with Inmet, but Lundin’s share price has dropped over 20% in the past 5 weeks.
  • The proposed deal between Lundin and Inmet to form Symterra is a ‘friendly’ merger, in which the boards advise the shareholders to vote for the exchange of shares in a shareholder meeting (planned for March 14th). Equinox’ offer is a ‘hostile’ takeover: an official procedure in which an offer is made for all outstanding shares, for which no board approval or shareholder approval from the target is required.

Implications:

  • Equinox’ board presents the deal as clearly superior to the Symterra merger plan, using the short term growth perspective as key argument. The value driver for the Symterra deal would be the development of Inmet’s Cobre Panama project, for which it required the spending power of Lundin. The recommendation of Lundin’s board to the shareholders will be crucial for the outcome of the battle.
  • A combination of forces of the 3 companies should not be ruled out, as it would maximize the synergies between the firms. This would create a player with copper output similar to Rio Tinto’s copper production. Clearly combining 3 companies would not only face integration obstacles, but would also depend heavily on the ability of the management teams to cooperate.
  • Potential rival bidders for Lundin (and/or Equinox and Inmet) include BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Freeport-McMoran, Teck, First Quantum, and Chinese players. Vale communicated that acquisitions of this size would not be likely, though it would help the company to diversify. With the battle for ownership opened it would be surprising if more than one company out of the group of Lundin, Equinox and Inmet survives this year stand-alone.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Symterra: Inmet, Lundin Merger to Forge Copper Mining Giant

January 19, 2011 Comments off

“Inmet Mining Corp.’s planned merger with Lundin Mining Corp. will catapult the combined 9 billion Canadian dollars (US $9.1 billion) miner among the world’s biggest copper producers as demand for the widely used industrial metal shows no signs of easing.

The combined company, to be known as Symterra Corp., will generate annual production of around 500,000 metric tons of copper starting in 2017, up from around an estimated 205,000 metric tons this year, ranking it among world’s top five senior copper producers. Chile’s Antofagasta PLC is the biggest copper producer, with output of more than 600,000 metric tons estimated for this year.

Inmet and Lundin, both based in Toronto, will combine five copper mines in Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Sweden and Finland with two huge copper projects—Inmet’s 80%-owned Cobre Panama operation, one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper projects with a mine life exceeding 30 years, and Lundin’s 24.8% stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The initial phase of that project calls for a 40-year mine.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, January 13 2011

Observations:

  • Although both headquartered in Toronto, Lundin and Inmet don’t have operations in North America. Most of the current production takes place in Europe, with focus of production in the future shifting to Asia, Africa and potentially Latin America.
  • The market capitalization of both firms is roughly equal at $4.4bln. Inmet has demonstrated a stable performance over the past years with profit margin in the range of 25-50%. Lundin has not been as profitable yet, but has access to the promising Tenke Fungurume project.

Implications:

  • The main driver for the merger is combined spending power for the development of Cobre Panama and Fungurume and the dilution of political risk associated with operation in Papua New Guinea and Congo.
  • Analysts point to the difference in corporate cultures of the two companies as a potential obstacle for smooth integration. The composition of the new board, with Inmet’s Jochen Tilk as president & CEO, indicates that Inmet’s ‘corporate citizenship’ culture might become dominant.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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