ArcelorMittal bid goes before Canadian regulators

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : Canadian regulators will hear Wednesday a challenge to ArcelorMittal’s bid for Canadian mining company Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. for $492 million.

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The hostile bidder Nunavat Iron Ore Tuesday succeeding in getting a hearing by the Ontario Securities Commission for a temporary ban on Baffinland’s shareholder new rights plan for selling the mining company to ArcelorMittal.

Baffinland shareholders announced the new rights plan – also called a poison pill- to end the auction after signing a new agreement to back ArcelorMittal’s $492-million bid over the weekend. But rival Nunavut moved the Ontario Securities Commission Sunday to kill the new shareholder rights plan. It said the new rights plan is aimed at ending the auction and denying Baffinland shareholders the chance to pick up the higher bidder.

Nunavat, which already owns 10 percent shares in Baffinland, has been trying to buy up its stock. Last Thursday, its raised its offer to $1.35 per share to buy 50.1 percent stake in it.

ArcelorMittal, which previously offered $1.10 per share or $433 million for Baffinland Iron Mines, Sunday raised its friendly bid by 14 percent to $1.25 per share or $492 million.

Baffinland shareholders favour ArcelorMittal over Nunavut because Nunavat’s senior executive Jowdat Waheed worked for it (Baffinland) just before launching the hostile bid.

Baffinland accuses Waheed of breaking confidentiality agreements. In fact, Baffinland shareholders put in place a pre-existing rights plan to thwart Nunavat. But the regulator forced Baffinland to scrap the pre-existing rights plan, allowing ArcelorMittal to enter the fray.

But with Baffinland shareholders announcing the new rights plan over the weekend to thwart Nunavat again, the hostile bidder has now moved the regulator to scrap it and allow the auction to continue.

As prices of iron ore has shot up more than 20 percent since June, ArcelorMittal is eying an estimated 365 million tonnes of iron ore reserves at the Mary River project to secure its future supplies.

The project has the potential to produce 18 million tonnes of iron ore annually for up to two decades.

ArcelorMittal mounted its bid to acquire Baffinland as the Canadian company doesn’t have $4 billion needed to bring the Mary River project into production.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])