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Implats CEO Insists on RBPlat Control Amid Northam Rivalry

Nico Muller

Impala Platinum’s (Implats) CEO, Nico Muller, has made it clear that the company seeks to gain control over Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat), emphasizing that anything less would not be acceptable. Muller’s statement comes as a response to the ongoing battle between Implats and Northam Platinum over the acquisition of the coveted asset.

  1. Implats CEO Nico Muller has emphasized the company’s desire to gain control over Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat), stating that anything less would be unacceptable, as they face competition from Northam Platinum in the acquisition process.
  2. Both Implats and Northam have made offers to acquire the remaining RBPlat shares, but regulatory delays have hindered the completion of Implats’ offer, leading the company to consider alternative options if further delays persist.
  3. The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), holding nearly 10% of RBPlat shares, could play a crucial role in the acquisition process, with Implats still waiting to learn whether the PIC will sell its stake.

During the Platinum Group Metals (PGM) industry day event in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Muller stressed the importance of controlling RBPlat for Implats. He explained that such control would enable the company to determine the long-term direction of the asset, which, according to him, differs significantly from the strategic objectives of Northam Platinum, its competitor in the bidding process for RBPlat.

Muller’s assertive comments come on the heels of Northam Platinum’s more conciliatory stance on the matter, as the company’s CEO, Paul Dunne, raised the possibility of forming a joint venture. Dunne addressed the media at the announcement of Northam’s interim results last Friday, expressing respect for Implats and recognizing the value both companies could bring to the RBPlat ore body if they remain as large shareholders.

Implats currently owns nearly 41% of RBPlat shares, while Northam holds almost 35%. Both companies have made offers to acquire the remaining RBPlat shares, although Northam has not yet issued its offer circular. Implats, on the other hand, has been trying to complete its offer but has faced regulatory delays, preventing it from obtaining a closure certificate from the Takeover Regulation Panel.

The ongoing complaint and appeals process, which could potentially drag on for an extended period, has frustrated Implats, as South African regulations allow for contentious matters to be taken to the courts. Implats has cautioned that it may have to explore alternative options if further delays persist.

In this acquisition tug-of-war, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) could play a crucial role as it holds nearly 10% of RBPlat shares. Dunne stated that Northam believes the PIC has decided to retain its shareholding. However, Muller revealed on Tuesday that Implats is still waiting to learn whether the PIC will sell its stake. The decision could significantly impact the outcome of the process, either granting control to Implats or not.

Muller emphasized that Implats will make a company decision on its direction within the next one or two months, regardless of whether the PIC makes a decision or not. When asked if Implats could potentially sell its stake to Northam, Muller acknowledged that it appears to be a “sensible option” and would be considered if there were an offer.

If Implats were to accept Northam’s offer, the balance of cash and shares paid to accepting shareholders would be affected. Dunne explained that about R17 billion in cash has been allocated to buy out RBPlat shareholders, but if the acceptance amount exceeds R17 billion, Northam shares will be issued at the reference price. However, if Implats retains its shares and remains a major shareholder, the full cash amount would be paid, and no shares would be issued.

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