A long-running battle between Nordgold and China’s Shandong Gold over Cardinal Resources (ASX: CDV) took a fresh turn on Wednesday, after the Russian gold miner matched Shandong’ s latest bid of A$1 per share.
Both bidders have been locked in a back-and-forth contest for the Australian miner — which owns the 5.1 million-ounce Namdini gold project in Ghana — since Nordgold put forward a 45.7 Australian cents-a-share bid in March this year.
The Moscow-based company became at the time Cardinal’s largest shareholder, with a 19.9% voting power. It sits now at just over 28%. Shandong holds about 11.9%.
Seven months of competing offers went by until Shandong came up in September with what seemed a winning offer. The A$1-per-share bid valued the company at A$538 million (about $381m).
Nordgold, whose non-executive chairman is steel billionaire Alexey Mordashov, refused to give up the fight for the Perth-based miner. It said on Wednesday it would increase its last offer of 90 Australian cents-a-share to match the bid from Shandong.
The move came less than 24 hours after Cardinal updated investors on the competing proposals, warning that the lack of any price increase or other update from Nordgold would result in unwarranted delays to progress at Namdini.
It also said Shandong had informed the company on Monday that A$1-a-share was its best and final price in the absence of a higher competing bid.
Nordgold chief executive, Nikolai Zelenski, said the new offer was its third price increase. He said it demonstrated the company’s commitment to finalizing a deal and progressing Namdini.
“We have the project development expertise and robust balance sheet necessary, as well as the proven environmental and community-led approach to mine development to underwrite the successful construction and commissioning of the Namdini project,” the miner said in the statement.
A feasibility study into the project estimates that it will produce about 4.2-million ounces of gold over a mine life of 15 years. Nearly 1.1 million ounces will be generated in the first three years of operation.
Initial capital costs for Namindi were forecast to range from $275 million and $426 million, depending on the project’s scale.
Cardinal’s board said it was considering Nordgold’s latest offer and urged investors to take no action.
Nordgold, which acquired many of its major assets during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, owns several gold mines in Africa, including Bissa in Burkina Faso and Lefa in Guinea. It also operates in Russia and Kazakhstan.
Its offer for Cardinal is open until November 3.