Indonesian oil & gas exploration and production firm Medco Energi Internasional is reportedly eager to acquire a majority stake in copper and gold miner Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT), subsidiary of the US-based mining giant Newmont Mining Corp, which operates the Batu Hijau copper and gold mine on Sumbawa (West Nusa Tenggara). On Wednesday (25/11), the Medco Group informed Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli that a MoU has already been signed between Medco and NNT to purchase a 76 percent stake, valued at USD $2.2 billion.
The current shareholders of NNT are Nusa Tenggara Partnership B.V. (56.0 percent), Multi Daerah Bersaing (24.0), Pukuafu Indah (17.8 percent), and Indonesia Masbaga Investama (2.2 percent).
Minister Ramli was quoted in Indonesian media saying that "it is a good initiative of the Medco Group to seek a majority stake in NNT and it shows that a domestic force is confident enough to purchase and operate large mining operations." Ramli is also enthusiastic about Medco Energi Internasional's plans to enhance corporate social responsibility and praises the group's commitment to establish domestic processing facilities (smelters), as stipulated by Indonesia's 2009 New Mining law. Arifin Panigoro, owner of the Medco Group, said the group will build smelting facilities after the acquisition has been completed.
Panigoro said all technicalities related to the acquisition should be finished in December 2015, implying that smelting facilities (with a planned production capacity of 500,000 tons) can be built starting from January 2016. The USD $550 million smelter may be established either at the location of the mine or in Banten (West Java).
Currently, NNT produces about 400,000 tons of copper in one year. However, the mine has already passed its peak production rate and analysts estimate that its reserves will last for another five or six years only.
The acquisition would also imply that NNT complies with the divestment rule stipulated by the 2009 Mining Law. The share divestment requirement means that within a time-span of ten years from the start of commercial production, the miner should be majority-owned by Indonesian parties. After renegotiations with the government (as NNT operated under the longstanding Contract of Work system), NNT also has to divest its shares.
However, the spokesman of Newmont said on Thursday (26/11) that discussions with buyers potentially interested in acquiring a majority stake in NNT have not met its "sales criteria" yet. Several analysts were also skeptical, casting doubt on whether Medco will be able to collect the necessary funds before the December deadline. As of September 2015, Medco has approximately USD $224 million in cash and cash equivalents, while its market capitalization stood at IDR 3.9 trillion (approx. USD $285 million).
As a result of speculation about the acquisition plan, shares of Medco Energi International surged 12.07 percent on Thursday (26/11).
Stock Quote Medco Energi International - MEDC: