Randgold may raise its £900m bid for Ashanti

Randgold Resources is considering raising its £900m bid for Ashanti Goldfields, the African gold miner, in a last-ditch attempt to appeal to the Ghanaian government, which can overturn the company's agreed takeover by AngloGold, the South African group controlled by Anglo American.

The Ashanti board decided late on Wednesday to accept AngloGold's lower all-share offer for the company, worth £860m. Lonmin, Ashanti's largest shareholder, said yesterday it would refuse any Randgold bid that does not include a cash element.

Ashanti said it preferred the AngloGold offer since shares in that company would be easier to trade than the 17 per cent stake in Randgold which Ashanti shareholders would get in the alternative deal. Its shares tumbled to reflect market pessimism that Randgold will now succeed.

However, Mark Bristow, the combative chief executive of Randgold, reiterated his promise to look again at improving his offer. The company's advisers believe that a significantly improved offer could yet tempt the Ghanaian government, which has a smaller stake than Lonmin, but which also has a "golden share" that can block any deal.