11/06/2014 - 12:23

Aquila takeover heats up with mystery buy

11/06/2014 - 12:23

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The takeover bid for Aquila Resources took an unexpected turn today when a mystery buyer, believed to be Mineral Resources, spent about $192 million buying a large stake in the Perth company, paying well above the bid price.

Aquila takeover heats up with mystery buy
Aquila Resources executive chairman Tony Poli.

The takeover bid for Aquila Resources took an unexpected turn today when a mystery buyer, believed to be Mineral Resources, spent about $192 million buying a large stake in the Perth company, paying well above the bid price.  

About 50 million Aquila Resources’ shares were traded in a block this morning for $3.75 per share, as well as four other large trades totalling 1.3 million shares at the same price.

The 51.3 million shares represent about 12 per cent of Aquila's shares, at a cost of $192.4 million.

Aquila has not been notified as to the identity or intentions of the purchaser, however it notes media speculation and the trading halt request this morning by Mineral Resources, suggesting that the purchaser is an entity associated with MinRes.

MinRes released a statement this morning, requesting a trading halt until the commencement of trading on Friday, or upon the release by the company of a further announcement to the market regarding speculation that the company purchased shares in Aquila. 

The buyer is required to lodge a substantial shareholder notice by 9:30am AEST tomorrow.

Aquila believes that the vendors of these shares are entitites associated with international asset manager M&G Investment Management.

Aquila's independent board sub-committee welcomed the recognition that the value of the company's shares were well in excess of the $3.40 cash per share in the takeover offer by Baosteel and Aurizon

An analyst, who wished to remain unnamed, hosed down suggestions that the company was preparing to make its own takeover bid for Aquila.

“I’d be pretty confident that would not be an intention. Don’t forget that there is a $7 billion price tag that goes to developing this (Aquila’s) asset," the analyst told Business News.

“You would need to have very deep pockets for taking over Aquila and then developing the asset on those metrics.”

The large share trade occurred shortly after Aquila announced that it had signed native title agreements with the Kuruma Marthudunera claim group for the West Pilbara iron ore project for an undisclosed amount.

The agreements will allow for the development of mine and rail infrastructure on native title claim areas, which is an important step towards the grant of mining leases for stage 1 of the project.

Aquila also stated that negotiations on native title agreements with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikurra claim group are expected to be finalised in the September quarter 2014.

Aquila’s share price rose by 3.15 per cent to $3.60 at 12:10pm WST. 

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