Rio Tinto takes control of Ivanhoe, punters feel deflated
World number three miner Rio Tinto has taken a majority stake in Ivanhoe Mines, its partner on the Mongolian Oyu Tolgoi project, purchasing a 51% interest.
The move comes after Ivanhoe scrapped a controversial “poison pill” shareholder provision clearing the way for Rio, which already owned 49% of the Vancouver-based company, to do a complete takeover.
Rio paid $20/share for the additional 2%. At the close on Tuesday Ivanhoe Mines (TSE:IVN) changed hands for $17.53 down 4.2%, bringing its market value to below $13 billion. Earlier in the day the counter traded down more than 5%. Ivanhoe stock is now negative for 2012 and down from a peak above $28/share reached in February last year. Rio ADRs ended 0.5% lower at $58.03 in New York.
In August Ivanhoe executive chairman Robert Friedland told a group of investors that Ivanhoe is worth at least $30 billion, but with the possibility of a delisting should Rio take full control, that prospect now seems even more distant.
According to a statement released on Tuesday by London-based Rio it has no “current intention” of buying additional securities, but added:
However, Rio Tinto reserves its right to seek opportunities to purchase additional securities of Ivanhoe depending upon its assessment of Ivanhoe’s business, prospects and financial condition, the market for Ivanhoe’s securities, general economic and tax conditions, and other factors.
Rio Tinto also reserves its right to take any permitted action as the majority shareholder of Ivanhoe.
In October Ivanhoe and Rio dodged a bullet when the Mongolian government said it was rethinking a 2009 deal that gave Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto a 66% stake in Oyu Tolgoi and that it wanted half of the $6 billion gold and copper project, now 70% built. Ivanhoe shares plunged on the news, but the firm took a tough stance and after some desperate negotiations Mongolia backed off.
Oyu Tolgoi is one of the biggest mining projects in the world and will help turn Mongolia into the world’s fastest-growing economy with staggering GDP growth of 35%. The mine is on track to produce more than 1.2 billion pounds of copper and 650,000 ounces of gold each year by the first half of 2013.