Sirius shareholders approve Anglo takeover

Woodsmith is the UK’s biggest mining project in a generation and will generate thousands of jobs for the local community. (Image courtesy of Sirius Minerals.)

Shareholders in Sirius Minerals (LON:SXX), the British junior struggling to develop a huge fertilizer mine beneath the North Yorks Moors national park, approved on Tuesday a planned takeover by Anglo American (LON: AAL), despite several attempts to avoid it.

The decision followed a fractious shareholder meeting, flanked by security guards to monitor “credible threats” against directors.

Frustrated investors took over Twitter to express their discontent, branding members of the board “stupid” and calling the takeover a “bloody disgrace”

Despite some investors saying they would rather see the company go bankrupt than given it away for cheap, they ultimately voted narrowly in favour of selling the company to Anglo American.

The 5.5p-a-share deal was backed by 62% of shareholders who voted today, representing 80% of the shares voted by value. That narrowly exceeded the required thresholds of 50% of shareholders and 75% of shares by value.

Anglo’s offer is equivalent to one-third more than the targeted company’s market value the day before the proposed takeover was made public.

Thousands of private investors had opposed the offer, as they bought shares at a much higher price. Most of those small shareholders bought in at around 25p and will lose large sums of their life savings as a result of the takeover.

Sirius was worth more than $2.3 billion 18 months ago, before announcing in September its funding plans had failed, adding it only had enough cash to last another six months. 

The two firms had agreed in January to the £405 million-deal ($520m), seen as a much-needed lifeline to the cash-strapped junior, which is halfway building its Woodsmith mine — the UK’s biggest mining project in a generation.

Frustrated investors took over Twitter to express their discontent, branding members of the board “stupid” and calling the takeover a “bloody disgrace.”

Anglo American, which is looking to retreat from thermal coal, sees the acquisition a its ticket back to the fertilizer business. The company owned some phosphate assets in the past but in recent years has focused on “four pillars” — copper, iron ore, diamonds and platinum.

It also adds a second major project to its $5bn Quellaveco copper mine in Peru, at a time when most rivals are reluctant to expand.

The Woodsmith mine, poised to be one of the world’s largest in terms of the amount of resources extracted, is set to generate an initial 10 million tonnes per year of polyhalite, a multi-nutrient fertilizer, containing four of the six key elements needed for plant growth — potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium.


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