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Acacia pokes holes in Barrick’s takeover bid, still open to “fair” offer

Acacia Mining is Tanzania’s biggest gold producer and operates three major mines in the country — Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi (pictured) and North Mara. (Image courtesy of Acacia Mining)

Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) laid down Monday a long list of reasons why it disagrees with majority shareholder Barrick Gold’s (TSX:ABX)(NYSE:GOLD) stance on a proposed takeover of the company, but noted an offer at a “fair” price would be attractive.

The miner, Tanzania’s No.1 gold producer, said the Canadian gold giant “appears to have ignored the value of [Acacia’s] portfolio of exploration and development assets, and the strategic value of the company’s pre-emption rights pursuant to the relationship agreement between [the two parties].”

The company also noted it continued to believe that, subject to an offer price that was “fair and which commands the requisite support of shareholders”, the acquisition bid would be an appealing solution for key stakeholders.

The African miner said it “strongly disagreed” with Barrick’s valuation of the company and that the proposal appears to have ignored the value of its exploration and development assets

Barrick, which owns about 64% of Acacia, made an informal proposal in May to buy out Acacia’s minority shareholders with its own shares, at a ratio that implied a discount to the unit’s market value. That offer, worth about $285 million, was considered by the African miner’s investors and some analysts as low.

The Toronto-based miner originally had until June 18 to come up with a formal, perhaps better offer, but UK regulators had extended the deadline until July 9.

The dispute over Acacia’s situation in Tanzania came to a head last week, when Barrick’s chief executive, Mark Bristow, said Acacia’s mine plans were not appropriately risked or supportable and needed revising.

Bristow also said Acacia’s relationship with the Tanzanian government was so damaged that it could no longer function as an independent public company and warned of a “catastrophic” loss of value if minority shareholders opposed the deal.

Barrick has been negotiating with the Tanzanian government on behalf of Acacia to resolve an ongoing row over taxes the East African nation claims is owed.

Acacia, which spun off from Barrick in 2010, says the parent company’s intervention has undermined its position in Tanzania, noting it had never been invited to the negotiation table.

The miner also said it was “continuing its own engagements with the highest levels” of the government, adding it had “no reason to believe that these engagements would not continue.”