Kazakhstan: Hostile Takeover One Step Closer for Resources Giant
A consortium consisting of a trio of oligarchs and the Kazakh government has moved one step closer to taking control of a London-listed natural resources giant with major operations in Kazakhstan.The consortium bidding to win control of the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) submitted a slightly revised offer to take the company back into private hands on June 24, after its initial proposal last month fell flat when minority shareholders said it undervalued the company. However, the new offer valued the embattled company at even less: The terms were similar to last month’s proposal but the value was slightly down due to changes in dollar-sterling exchange rates and falling share prices. The new offer proposes paying shareholders $2.65 in cash plus 0.23 of a share in London-listed copper miner Kazakhmys in exchange for each ENRC share. Kazakhmys, ENRC’s largest stakeholder with 26 percent of the company, issued a statement on June 24 saying it was accepting the offer despite believing it “may undervalue ENRC and its assets.”Kazakhmys said it did not believe it could secure better terms, and that it would raise $887 million from the sale that could be targeted to its core business. If approved by shareholders, the deal would remove the firm from ENRC.Kazakhmys’s agreement is crucial to the takeover bid, which now has the backing of 80 percent of voters. The consortium, named the Eurasian Resources Group, consists of the three oligarchs who founded ENRC – Alexander Machkevitch, Patokh Chodiev and Alijan Ibragimov, holding a combined 55.33 percent of ENRC in equal shares of 14.56 percent – and Kazakhstan’s government, with 11.65 percent. Kazakhmys’s 26 percent stake takes the bid’s support to 80 percent of votes, meaning that minority shareholders will be outvoted and the hostile takeover is almost certainly a done deal.The independent committee representing minority shareholders issued a statement on June 24 expressing opposition to an offer that “materially undervalues” ENRC.The offer values ENRC at £3.04 billion ($4.7 billion), with each share worth some 234.3 pence, against 255 pence in last month’s offer. Shares have plummeted since ENRC floated in London in 2007 at 540 pence. Analysts link the takeover bid to a series of upsets at ENRC, including rows over corporate governance and a UK fraud probe into its operations in Kazakhstan and Africa.
Joanna Lillis is a journalist based in Almaty and author of Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan.
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