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Anaconda focus pays

ANACONDA Nickel has achieved much in the past year, most of it from focused restructuring, after a strategic review revealed the flagship Murrin Murrin operation would chew up far more expenditure than had been forecast, and that production profiles were over-optimistic.

The company has reduced corporate overheads and cleaned up the balance sheet.

From 14 general managers the previous year, the company is now achieving ground with just four.

This week, nigh on completing debt restructuring to pay secured creditors, Anaconda initiated a $300 million renounceable rights issue, to repay debt and boost funds.

But the Murrin Murrin project had been former chief executive officer Andrew Forrest’s dream.

Hence the unsolicited takeover bid by MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners, complete with talk of Mr Forrest’s involvement, made some sense.

The $A0.12 per share offer, with $A0.01 for each right of the rights issue, arrived with a number of conditions.

These included Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval and the Anaconda provision of an independent expert “with access to the Murrin Murrin Project for the purpose of conduction an investigation into the past and prospective performance of the Murrin Murrin Project”.

In addition, MatlinPatterson revealed a subsidiary had secured a pre-bid acceptance agreement with second largest shareholder Anglo American Investments (Australia), for 91.8 million Anaconda shares, almost 20 per cent of Anaconda. Anglo American holds 23.7 per cent of the company, while Mr Forrest is Anaconda’s fourth largest shareholder, with 4.53 per cent, held in Forrest Family Investments.

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