What’s to keep South Africa’s biggest gold miner from buying a U.S. palladium producer? China, perhaps.
Sibanye Gold Ltd. is seeking regulatory approval for its $2.2 billion takeover of U.S.-based Stillwater Mining Co. Adding Stillwater’s two Montana mines — the only platinum-group operations in the U.S. and the biggest outside South Africa and Russia — would make Sibanye the world’s third-biggest palladium producer.
A Chinese consortium owns about 20 percent of Sibanye, making it the miner’s biggest single shareholder. That may spark concerns at the U.S. body that reviews whether purchases of businesses by foreign buyers could threaten national security. That regulator — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. — has looked warily on some high-profile investments by Chinese investors.
Palladium and platinum are among materials whose supply is monitored by the Defense Department because of their importance to military and industry applications. Sibanye has already filed for CFIUS approval, Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman said, noting that the company isn’t worried about the review.
“We realize the sensitivity, but the Chinese don’t control us,” Froneman said in an interview in Cape Town on Tuesday. “They’re just a shareholder.” CFIUS is a secretive panel that includes representatives of the Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security departments.
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