Wyloo Metals Pty Ltd. has bumped up its offer for Noront Resources Ltd., trumping BHP Group Ltd.’s bid, and in a highly unusual move is proposing to keep the struggling Ring of Fire exploration company as a publicly traded entity.
Since May, Toronto-based Noront has been the subject of a takeover tussle between Australian private equity firm Wyloo and BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, which is also based in Australia.
Both are extremely well funded. BHP’s market valuation is US$165-billion. Wyloo is backed by Andrew Forrest, founder and chair of Fortescue Metals Group, and one of the richest individuals in Australia.
Wyloo’s latest offer of 70 cents a share in cash is 27 per cent higher than BHP’s proposal in July of 55 cents and 122 per cent higher than Wyloo’s original bid of 31.5 cents in May. Noront’s board of directors have recommended that investors tender their shares to the BHP takeover bid.
Wyloo already owns 37.5 per cent of Noront’s shares, and says it has no intention of tendering to BHP. “Wyloo Metals didn’t make its cornerstone investment in Noront earlier this year to accept an offer that represents a fraction of the potential value of Noront’s Ring of Fire assets,” Luca Giacovazzi, head of Wyloo Metals, said in a statement.