Firm advised on major cross border mining deal

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Ashurst has advised South African mining company Sibanye Gold Limited on its bid for Bermuda company Aquarius Platinum Limited, worth $413m.

Sibanye is currently looking to expand operations from exclusively gold in South Africa into platinum group metals. The gold giant acquired Anglo American Platinum, another significant platinum operations company in September this year.

The bid for Aquarius comes at an advantage point in the price cycle, the platinum price having declined around 30 per cent this year.

Led by Perth partner Roger Davies, the deal is expected to reach completion in the first quarter of 2016, subject to shareholder approval.

“It is significant because it is a large transaction being done in the resources sector at a time when M&A deal volume/value has generally been at reduced levels, because of pricing challenges and a negative market outlook,” Davies told Australasian Lawyer.

“The matter has been truly cross-border - Sibanye being a South African company listed on JSE and NYSE, and Aquarius a Bermuda incorporated company listed on ASX, JSE and LSE.”

The complex deal involved many legal advisory teams, Beemont Limited acting as Sibanye’s Bermuda legal advisers and ENSafrica acting as South African legal advisers.

Allen & Overy acted as Australian legal advisers to Aquarius, Linklaters acted as UK legal advisers and Conyers Dill & Pearman Limted acted as Bermuda Legal advisers to Aquarius.

“It has been a pleasure to assist Sibanye with this challenging deal, which navigated multi-jurisdictional legal issues and employed a novel transaction structure (from an Australian perspective) to achieve Sibanye's desired commercial outcomes while minimising execution risk,” said Davies.

 “I think we are likely to see increased M&A activity over the coming 12 months as acquirers with access to cash or strong equity go looking for quality assets in what remains a challenged market.”

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