Top Sibanye holders are said to indicate support for Lonmin deal

(Bloomberg) — Three of Sibanye Gold Ltd.’s largest investors, controlling more than a third of its shares, have indicated they will vote in favor of its planned takeover of Lonmin Plc, according to people familiar with the matter.

Gold One Group, Sibanye’s largest investor with about 19 percent, and South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. both told the companies they will support the all-share deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Exor Investments UK LLP, which owns shares in both companies, has also indicated it will back the transaction, they said.

The PIC, Africa’s largest money manager, owns about 9 percent of Sibanye and is Lonmin’s biggest investor with about 30 percent. The deal requires more than 50 percent approval in a vote by Sibanye investors, in addition to Lonmin’s shareholders’ approval.

Sibanye believes investors will recognize the rationale of the proposed transaction, spokesman James Wellsted said.“We feel if there are no onerous conditions placed on us, they will support the transaction.”

“We feel if there are no onerous conditions placed on us, they will support the transaction,” he said.

Sibanye Investors

As of July 27

1. Gold One 19.35% 2. Van Eck Associates Corp 10% 3. Public Investment Corp 9.36% 4. Exor Investments UK LLP 7.82% 5. Investec Asset Management 7.21%The PIC said it wouldn’t comment publicly on how it would vote on the deal. Gold One, which is owned by a Chinese consortium, didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions. Matteo Scolari, managing director for London-based Exor Investments, declined to comment. Exor held about 8 percent of Sibanye as of late July, according to Sibanye.The PIC said it wouldn’t comment publicly on how it would vote on the deal. 

The Lonmin transaction is the latest in a series of deals by Sibanye Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman, who has transformed the gold miner by expanding into platinum-group metals assets and last year bought a U.S. palladium miner for $2.2 billion. For Lonmin, the takeover represents a lifeline after the company struggled through years of losses and was forced to seek debt-covenant waivers from lenders until early next year.

While Sibanye said this month that the deal remains on track, Froneman has warned that investors can’t be expected to approve the deal if it means adding more debt. Sibanye is under pressure to reduce borrowings after the U.S. purchase last year.

Net Cash

Lonmin’s net cash rose to $23 million in June from $17 million at the end of its second quarter, it said in July. The balance has continued to increase since then, said one of the people.

The transaction is being reviewed by South Africa’s competition authorities and Froneman said he expects to receive approval within the coming months. If that happens by October, Sibanye’s investors could vote in December, he said.

“There is a recognition this is good for Lonmin, it’s good for us — that’s why our shareholders will support it,” Froneman said in an interview Aug. 23.

(By Loni Prinsloo and Felix Njini)