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Aquarius, Sibanye holders vote for merger deal

Shareholders in Aquarius Platinum and Sibanye Gold are expected to vote for a transaction in January next year which will see the South African bullion producer acquire all shares in the precious metals miner for $294m.

The deal, which marks and cements Sibanye Gold’s diversification into platinum group metals (PGMs), is expected to be finalised by April next year, both companies said in separate updates on Monday.

Analysts and mining executives in South Africa are expecting the deal to sail through.

“Shareholders will be asked to vote on the transaction at a special general meeting anticipated to be held in January 2016,” said Aquarius Platinum CEO Jean Nel.

Voting for the transaction will take place during an “amalgamation meeting” in mid-January to be followed by an annual general meeting of the company, according to Aquarius Platinum.

Sibanye Gold chief executive Neal Froneman said on Monday that his company is committed to its bid for Aquarius Platinum.

Shareholders in Sibanye Gold will also meet in January and vote for the acquisition of Aquarius Platinum as well as the Rustenburg platinum mine currently owned by world number one platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum.

“As highlighted when these transactions were announced, while near-term economic headwinds and supply side factors have resulted in downward pressure on metal prices, the long-term outlook for PGM demand remains constructive,” he said.

Aquarius Platinum is a key PGM producer, with operations in South Africa and Zimbabwe, where it jointly owns the Mimosa mine with Impala Platinum (Implats). Implats is unlikely to sell off its stake in Mimosa and allow Sibanye to control the company in full, officials at the two companies have said in the past few weeks.

“Mimosa will continue to operate as a JV with Implats managing (it). It is highly unlikely that Implats will be sellers of their investment in Mimosa,” said Sibanye Gold spokesperson James Wellsted.

On Monday, Nel said the merger deal needs the approval of the Competition Commission and Competition Tribunal. He added competition approval is expected to be obtained by the end of March 2016.

“Subject to Aquarius shareholders approving the transaction, completion of the transaction should take place by the end of April 2016,” he said.

Previous reports have however indicated a disagreement in investment strategy for Mimosa between Implats and Aquarius Platinum over alleged uncertainty in Zimbabwe. The two SA platinum miners have already abandoned a plan to sink a new shaft at the mine, preferring to implement on-reef development to access a new ore body.

Fin24

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