26/04/2012 - 15:51

Middlemas appointment lifts Berkeley

26/04/2012 - 15:51

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Middlemas appointment lifts Berkeley

Berkeley Resources' volatile share price jumped 28 per cent today, making up for similar losses last month, after the uranium explorer announced the appointment of successful Perth dealmaker Ian Middlemas as its new chairman.

The company, which is aiming to develop a project in Spain but has become mired in a contractual dispute, has also appointed Robert Behets as a non-executive director.

The two men previously worked together at Africa-focused uranium stock Mantra Resources, which was sold recently for $929 million.

The appointment comes a fortnight after it was announced that current managing director Brendan James would resign effective May 20, citing personal reasons. Berkeley has now announced that Mr James’s resignation will be brought forward to April 27, when Mr Middlemas and Mr Behets will take up their respective posts.

Current chairman Dr Jim Ross will remain on the board of the company, taking up the role of deputy chairman.

Both with Mr Middlemas and Mr Behets will take up equity in Berkeley through a placement prior to joining the board. Mr Middlemas will acquire four milllion shares and Mr Behets will acquire one million shares at a price of 30 cents per share, with each share having a free attaching option exercisable at 45 cents any time before June 30, 2016.

The appointment has provided a welcome boost for the company, which recently commenced arbitration in the International Court of Arbitration in Paris against former joint venture partner Enusa Industrias Avanzadas over its failure to honour contractual obligations agreed to in 2009. Berkeley is seeking US$200 million (A$194 million) from Enusa, and has received advice that it has a strong case.

Despite the problems with Enusa, Mr James had said in early April that the company was on track to initiate construction of its flagship Salamanca 1 project in Spain next year, ahead of first production in 2014.

Berkeley shares closed the day up nine cents to 41.5 cents.

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