One of the state’s busiest directors, Ian Middlemas, is seeking to take a big stake in Aviva Corporation and become its chair in a proposal that appears to have been rejected by the listed company’s biggest stakeholder.
Aviva announced today that Mr Middlemas and Mark Pearce, his business partner in investment house Apollo Group, had sought to pay a discounted price of $1.65 million for 15 million shares for, a stake representing 8 per cent of stock on a watered-down basis.
As part of the proposal, via private company Arredo, the group would also receive 10 million free four-year options exercisable at 17.5 cents.
According to WA Business News Book of Lists records Mr Middlemas is on the boards of Berkeley Resources, Sierra Mining, Papillon Resources, WildHorse Energy, Odyssey Energy, Sovereign Metals, Equatorial Resources, Pacific Ore and Prairie Downs Metals, sharing the last five of those with Mr Pearce.
While Aviva board members Geoffrey Loftus-Hills, Lindsay Reed and Rob Kirtlan have supported the deal, the company’s 14.6 per cent shareholder Sentient has opposed it through its nominated director Pieter Britz.
The next biggest shareholder is Marford Group, Trevor Delroy’s broad-based family business that includes Eclipse Resources, Eclipse Soils, and Wyadup Valley Farm, as well as significant investment in a variety of listed companies. Marford only recently came on the register and has about 6 per cent.
Sentient has lodged a requisition notice to have the independent directors removed from the board and replaced with its own nominees.
Aviva, which recently sold off its Kenyan mining assets and painted a bright, cashed-up future, has suspended a search for a new chief executive to replace Mr Reed.
Aviva is focused on the development of its Mmamantswe coal project in Botswana.
Aviva was previously the proponent of the Coolimba coal and power project, near Geraldton. It completed the sale of that project to WestGen last month.