Lonmin to reject $1.5bn Ashanti bid

Lonmin, the mining group headed by veteran banker Sir John Craven, is expected to give the cold shoulder to an audacious $1.46bn (£901m) bid for Ashanti Goldfields made by the London-listed mining group Randgold Resources late on Friday.

The bid outgunned a $1.1bn offer for the Ghana-based Ashanti made a few days earlier by AngloGold, the world's second largest gold-mining group.

However, two investors will determine the future of Ashanti: the Ghanaian government, which has 19.5 per cent of the group's shares and has said it will decide on any bids next month, and Lonmin, which owns 32 per cent of Ashanti.

Sir John has indicated that he wants to sell out of Ashanti and has agreed to accept AngloGold's bid. This would have given Lonmin about $330m in cash as well as seeing $75m, which Ashanti owes to the British company, repaid.

The Randgold offer would merely give Lonmin a reduced stake in a gold mining company. Sir John has indicated he does not want to accept shares and will push Randgold to come up with a cash alternative.

The recent rise in Randgold's share price has also raised concern. It stood at just 955p on 16 July and reached nearly 1,400p last week before closing on Friday at 1,355p.

Mark Bristow, Randgold's chief executive, said the share price movement was one of the reasons the company disclosed its approach to Ashanti.

Dr Bristow has been in Ghana talking to Ashanti in an attempt to get it to recommend its bid. "We are working through all the necessary channels," he said.

AngloGold's finance director, Jonathan Best, dismissed Randgold's bid, saying: "I doubt whether the market will see it as a superior offer."

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