South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater to buy troubled platinum producer Lonmin

PUBLISHED: Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:02:18 GMT

South Africa’s precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater has agreed to buy Lonmin in an all-share deal, valuing the troubled platinum producer at about 285 million pounds ($382 million), the two companies said on Thursday.

Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, has faced the combined pressures of low platinum prices and challenges of operating in South Africa, where laying off workers to improve profitability is a fraught issue.

Its share price in London was up 18 percent by 0822 GMT, while Sibanye-Stillwater’s fell 2.6 percent in Johannesburg trade.

“The flexibility inherent in the larger regional PGM (platinum group metals) footprint will create a more robust business, better able to withstand volatile PGM prices and exchange rates,” Neal Froneman, chief executive officer of Sibanye-Stillwater, said in a statement.

He said the acquisition would “deliver longer term benefits for all stakeholders.”

Under the offer, each Lonmin Shareholder will receive 0.967 new Sibanye-Stillwater shares for each Lonmin share, the companies said in their statement.

Following the completion of the deal Lonmin shareholders will hold around 11.3 percent of the enlarged group.

“Doubtless welcome news to long suffering Lonmin shareholders averting the need to dig into their pockets once again to refinance the company in its regular three to four year refinancing cycle,” Marc Elliott, analyst at Investec bank said.

He added Sibanye management could get the most value from Lonmin’s smelting and refining assets and could also be betting on a rebound in the price of platinum group metals.

Lonmin’s share price has halved this year because of uncertainty about the future of a company, which has repeatedly called on its investors for cash.

In November, Reuters reported on its array of measures to save cash after it delayed its annual financial results pending conclusion of a business review.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Barbara Lewis in London; Editing by Adrian Croft.

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