Sirius Minerals top shareholder urges mining firm to ‘pursue other funding options’

Jupiter Asset Management has 8% stake in Sirius; it wants an alternative to Anglo American’s offer that keeps “shareholders invested” in the project.

By Kelley Price

A major shareholder in Sirius Minerals has urged the mining firm to “pursue” alternative funding options to Anglo American’s cash offer, which would allow shareholders to “remain invested” in the project.

Jupiter Asset Management is one of the largest shareholders in the Whitby mine, with a 7.8% stake.

The deal has angered thousands of smaller retail investors, many of whom have invested large sums in Sirius Minerals shares and are facing potentially huge losses.

Steve Davies, from Jupiter Asset Management, said: “We would like the Board to pursue any alternative options, including the consortium of financial investors who submitted a proposal for a $680m funding package earlier in January, within the remaining time available.

“We would like to be able to consider a standalone financing proposal that would enable shareholders to remain invested in the project, as an alternative to the existing takeover offer from Anglo American.”

In a letter to Sharesoc, a not-for-profit organisation representing shareholders’ interests, Sirius said there was a “very real risk” that the funding package would not be secured by the end of March 2020.

It had therefore concluded there was “not likely to be an alternative to the Anglo offer” other than liquidation.

Under UK takeover rules, shareholders – including an estimated 85,000 small retail investors – must now vote on whether the deal should go ahead.

It must be approved by 75% of shareholders as part of the vote, which will be held within the next two weeks

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It wants the Sirius Minerals board to look at other options including a rival £520m offer by a “consortium”, which was made in January.

Time is running out for Sirius, which accepted an Anglo American’s £405m offer last month, claiming it was the “only feasible” option.

Bosses said they faced a “stark choice” between accepting the offer or company liquidation by the end of March.

Chris Spencer-Phillips, from ShareSoc, was speaking with both Sirius Minerals and Anglo American over the next day or so to feed information back to shareholders.

He said: “We now have over 750 Sirius shareholders registered and more joining every day; it is fair to say that there are a lot of very concerned investors.

“It is an interesting development because if Jupiter feels an alternative funding package can be put together, since they own 7% of the shares they could help get that organised.

“We could help facilitate that.

“Over 50% of the shares are owned by the retail investors, so they have a considerable part to play in this.

“We have spoken to lots of them.

“They are, understandably, a pretty disgruntled group.

“They feel they have been misled, promised things that weren’t quite correct.

“They invested hard-earned money that many could ill afford to lose.”

He continued: “Sirius is under a bit of a time gun, by the end of March they will run out of money.

“A lot of shareholders have gone into the market and sold at the market price of 5.5p.

“The tell-tale signs of whether there’s any sort of option will be if shares go above that.

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“Jupiter could come up with an alternative funding package which might encourage Anglo American to offer more.

“We are trying to galvanise the shareholders together and give them some information on what’s possible.”

Shareholders can contact ShareSoc HERE.

By Kelley Price

Source www.gazettelive.co.uk


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