Chinese hunt Africa mine bargains

In an article this morning (30 Sept), FT Tilt writer highlights a swift move by a state-backed Chinese company to acquire upstream mining assets in Africa. Writer Denise Law says Hong Kong-listed Minmetals Resources (MMR – www.minmetalsresources.com), part of China’s biggest metals trader, has offered C$1.3 billion ($1.25bn) for Toronto-listed Anvil Mining (www.anvilmining.com), with an all-cash offer for Anvil at C$8 per share, a 39 per cent premium to its closing price in Toronto on Thursday (29 September). The deal is subject to shareholder approval.
In April MMR bid $6.5bn for Equinox Minerals with mining assets in Saudi Arabia and Zambia but was outbid by Canada’s Barrick Gold and withdrew.
The author comments “underlining how state-backed Chinese companies were becoming increasingly reluctant to over-pay for overseas assets.” The article quotes Mark Hinsley, analyst at Foster Stockbroking in Sydney as saying the Chinese are keen to buy and current worries of slower global growth and extreme market volatility are giving them opportunities to buy up cheaper assets: “Chinese mining companies with strong balance sheets will use this opportunity to pick up assets as equity markets get pushed back and valuations fall.” He added that Africa will be an attractive destination for the Chinese, “given the supply/demand dynamics of copper and the huge exploration potential and operating cost landscape of Africa”.
Anvil’s main asset is the Kinsevere mine in DRC, which produces 60,000 tonnes of copper cathode a year. According to an MMR statement, the takeover would increase MMR’s copper output by 60%: “Anvil’s copper operations are an excellent fit with MMR’s strategy to build an upstream, international diversified base metals company. Anvil provides a sound platform and experienced management and operations team for MMR to further expand into the Central African copper belt and Southern Africa.”
A note by Foster Stockbroking says it is unlikely that a rival will emerge with a bigger bid for Anvil given that MMR’s offer is attractive. It notes how fast MMR is working to close this deal, from announcing a strategic review on 4 August to takeover bid, a total of 8 weeks. “This demonstrates the pace at which the Chinese can move to act on a strategic C$1.3bn deal. In our view, the valuation is compelling and unlikely to be trumped.”
Other Chinese mining companies looking to expand further in Africa, especially in DRC, include China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining and Jinchuan Grou as regional consolidation in the copper industry continues to play out. Hanlong Mining is also currently trying to acquire Sundance Resources, which has iron ore assets in Cameroon.

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