PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The newly appointed CEO of ASX- and TSX-listed Minemakers, Cliff Lawrenson, has told shareholders that he would continue to engage with joint venture (JV) partner UCL to see if a “fair deal” could be agreed upon for the development of the Sandpiper phosphate project, in Namibia.
In a letter to shareholders on Friday, Lawrenson said that while he maintained the Minemakers’ board recommendation that shareholders reject a recent takeover offer from UCL, he was open to exploring “all options and opportunities”.
Earlier this month, UCL launched a counter takeover offer for Minemakers, offering one of its own shares, and 4.5c in cash for every 1.6 Minemakers shares held.
This was in opposition to Minemaker’s bid for UCL, under which it had offered 13 of its own shares for every 10 UCL shares held.
Minemakers’ bid for UCL closed earlier this week with an uptake of only 2.65%, taking its total shareholding in UCL to 15.76%.
UCL chairperson Ian Ross said that the low number of acceptances indicated UCL shareholders’ confidence that the company could unlock the value of the Sandpiper project by progressing it through the development stage and into production.
“Following the closure of Minemakers’ offer, UCL’s offer for Minemakers is the only current proposal to consolidate ownership of Sandpiper. UCL has already demonstrated the ability to raise funds to progress the project and the acceptance of our offer will allow Minemakers’ shareholders to benefit from the relationships UCL has developed with strategic investors,” Ross said this week.
However, in his letter to shareholders, Lawrenson noted that the UCL takeover offer materially undervalued Minemakers’ assets.
“The UCL takeover offer for Minemakers confirms that both parties recognise the strategic benefits of bringing Minemakers and UCL together to facilitate the financing and development of the Sandpiper project and ultimately enhance value for both sets of shareholders,” Lawrenson said.
However, he noted that this had to be done in a way that was fair and equitable to the shareholders of both companies, and not just to the benefit of UCL shareholders.
“Regrettably, there has, at times, been an uncomfortable relationship between Minemakers and UCL, which may have been an impediment to reaching an agreed deal and successfully achieving mutually beneficial outcomes for all shareholders.
“I come to this situation with integrity, a fresh perspective and a commitment to all Minemakers shareholders to objectively explore all options and opportunities to maximise and deliver value to shareholders.”
Lawrenson further noted that this would include a genuine engagement with UCL to see if a deal could be reached, and if that was proven not to be an option, to ensure that Minemakers’ relationship with its JV partner allowed the company to continue to work collaboratively towards the common objective of developing the Sandpiper project.