Indophil Resources will become a wholly Filipino-owned company effective January 13 when it begins de-listing from the Australian Stock Exchange following the approval of its sale to the Alsons Group in a stockholders meeting in December.
The deal, valued at Aus$361 million in cash, allows Alsons Prime Investment Corporation (APIC) to acquire 37.5% of Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI), which owns the US$5.9 billion Tampakan Copper and Gold Project. Global mining and commodities giant Glencore International controls the rest of SMI.
An Indophil spokesman said it was waiting for the “formal sign-off by the Supreme Court in Australia and that process was slated for the morning of January 13”.
After that, corporate secretary Gavan Collery said Indophil “begins a de-listing process which leads to 100% ownership by Alsons through its subsidiary APIC”.
The acquisition of the minority share in SMI completes Alsons attempts to make significant exposure to the firm. Alsons is reportedly backed by Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings which earlier appointed Frederic DyBuncio as member of the Board of Directors of Indophil. Nicasio Alcantara represents the Alsons Group. Also owning minority shares in SMI are San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon Ang and PLDT’s Manny Pangilinan.
Indophil had been looking to unload its stake in SMI beginning with the botched 2008 sale to a consortium of investors led by Stanhill Resources of Hong Kong for Aus$1.28 per share on condition that Indophil deliver at least 90% of its shares in the mining firm. But minority shareholder Lion Selection sold 17.76% of its 25% stake in Indophil to Xstrata, which automatically voided the bid offer of Stanhill after Xstrata exercised its veto power.
In 2007 Xstrata exercised its option in SMI, allowing it to gain majority control of SMI by converting its interest to a 62.5% stake in the firm. Alsons Corp is one of the companies that joined Stanhill in the consortium which failed to buy out Indophil. After the failed bid to sell to Stanhill, Alsons Corp submitted another bid for the same price per share, this time for only the shares held by Indophil at SMI. Xstrata rejected the offer.
In 2009, Indophil almost completed the sale of its stake in SMI to Zijin Mining Group Limited before the latter terminated talks in 2010. In 2012, Filipino-owned San Miguel Corporation conducted due diligence in a prelude to the acquisition of Indophil shares in SMI. San Miguel, however, also backed out from the negotiations.
Following the takeover of Glencore International of Xstrata PLC, SMI plunged into further uncertainties as operations were scaled down after the Tampakan-based company failed to secure necessary government permits to proceed with the commercial operations of the project.
Glencore has publicly stated that it is reluctant to proceed with greenfield projects as its takeover of Xstrata required the commodities giant to pour in massive capital and the sale of several of Xstrata’s productive mining projects.
SMI has been facing strong opposition from the local Catholic church and environmental groups. It also faces a major obstacle to its commercial operations as the provincial government of South Cotabato refuses to repeal or amend a local ordinance that banned open pit mining in the province. Tampakan is a mountainous area of South Cotabato.