First Quantum to acquire Antares for C$460 million

First Quantum Minerals Ltd, the copper producer seeking to diversify after a battle over mining rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, agreed to pay C$460 million (US$450 million) for Antares Minerals Inc to gain assets in Latin America.

First Quantum will offer the equivalent of C$6.35 for each Antares share, a 46% premium to the volume-weighted average trading price on the Toronto Stock Exchange for the 20 trading days ended Oct 15, it said in a statement today.

Antares, operator of precious and base metal projects in Latin America, owns the Haquira project in Peru next to Xstrata plc's Las Bambas copper and gold development, First Quantum said. Haquira currently has 3.7Mt of contained copper equivalent, and inferred resources of 2.4Mt of contained copper equivalent, according to the statement.

“The acquisition of Antares is another step in First Quantum's stated strategy of geographical diversification,” chief executive officer Philip Pascall said in the statement.

“Haquira is a world-class copper project and has the potential to significantly increase First Quantum's copper production.”

First Quantum, based in Vancouver, will offer shareholders
0.07619 of its own shares for each Antares stock they hold, or an aggregate maximum cash payment of C$250 million. The board of directors at Antares unanimously approved the transaction and will recommend shareholders vote in favour, according to First Quantum, which expects to complete the deal in December.

The company will fund the cash portion of the acquisition with internal resources, First Quantum said.

Antares agreed to pay C$13.5 million to First Quantum if the transaction isn't completed. The company has also been granted the right to try to match any competing offers.

First Quantum has lost control of its biggest projects in Congo in the past year and has a case before a Paris arbitration court to try to resolve a dispute over the US$750 million Kolwezi copper venture. The Congo government closed the project last year and in August sold the rights to the development to Eurasian Natural Resources Corp.

Oct 18 (Bloomberg)

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