First Quantum bid down to wire as Inmet calls for rejection – by Pav Jordan (Globe and Mail – February 27, 2013)

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Inmet Mining Corp. made a final attempt to persuade shareholders to turn down a $5.1-billion hostile takeover bid from First Quantum Minerals Ltd. after failing to secure a better offer from its suitor.

Inmet, which has been fighting the hostile bid for months, opened the doors to First Quantum executives last week to examine its prize asset, the Cobre Panama copper mine that is the largest mining project ever in Central America.

“Despite its communication to Inmet shareholders stressing the link between due diligence and its ability to increase the offer, First Quantum has not increased its offer to date,” Inmet said, as the deadline loomed for a shareholder vote Wednesday on the hostile bid.

The high-stakes battle for Inmet comes amid a wave of embarrassing writedowns taken over the past few months on acquisitions made by some of the world’s biggest miners in recent years.

Many large companies have lost their appetite for deal-making, cowed by industry-wide cost overruns and multibillion-dollar writedowns on assets bought in headier times. Several analysts speculated last week that First Quantum might be hard-pressed to justify a higher bid to its shareholders.

With a price tag of some $6.2-billion to develop, Cobre Panama will also be one of the biggest capital investments in Panama since the building of the famous canal joining the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

First Quantum declined immediate comment on Tuesday, although company president Clive Newall told a mining conference in Florida earlier in the day that management teams from the two companies have been in contact.

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