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01.10.07 09:04

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Celtic Resources rejects new £161 million Severstal bid
Celtic Resources has rejected Severstal?s improved offer of £161 million ($327 million) saying that the 23% bid increase is not enough.

Author: Eleanor Wason and Chris Wills
Posted:  Friday , 28 Sep 2007

LONDON (Reuters) -  

London-listed gold miner Celtic Resources has rejected an improved 161 million pound ($327 million) offer from Russian miner and steelmaker Severstal, saying the 23 percent increase was still not enough.

However, Severstal strengthened its hand by buying a further 3.1 percent stake in Celtic, taking its holding to 29.7 percent, and said it had also won the backing of Canada's Barrick Gold, which owns 6.6 percent of Kazakhstan-focused Celtic.

"This offer significantly undervalues the company and should be rejected by shareholders," Celtic said in a statement shortly after Severstal announced its 270 pence a share cash offer.

Earlier this week, Celtic rejected a 22O pence a share bid proposal from Severstal and said it had received a separate approach from an unnamed third party.

Severstal said its offer was consistent with its aim to diversify into non-ferrous mining in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

It said the bid was 43.6 percent above the volume weighted average share price of Celtic for the three months to Sept. 17, the day before Celtic said it had received a bid approach.

Celtic shares leapt over 20 percent to as high as 280.7 pence, signalling some investors are hopeful of a higher offer.

At 1220 GMT, Severstal shares were up 1.4 percent at 525 roubles.

An industry source told Reuters on Thursday the second approach to Celtic was from a Western oil company.

Traders and analysts said Victoria Oil & Gas was a possible bidder, as Victoria Chairman Kevin Foo is also managing director of Celtic Resources.

Both Celtic and Victoria Oil & Gas declined to comment.

Severstal's adviser, Morgan Stanley, said the Russian firm saw significant opportunities to consolidate gold mining in the CIS.

"There is significant geological potential regionally in gold, and a strong competitive advantage for those experienced in operating in the Russian and CIS geographies. Severstal will be a consolidator," Peter Bacchus, Morgan Stanley's head of European investment banking for metals and mining, told Reuters.

"A negotiated outcome (with Celtic) would have been preferred," he added. "However, with several shareholders requesting the opportunity to participate at these price levels, and no progress able to be made with Celtic, Severstal felt that a public offer was in the best interest of all shareholders."

Celtic Resources, incorporated in Ireland, operates two gold mines in Kazakhstan. It also has a 50 percent stake in a Kazakh molybdenum mine and a copper and gold project in Russia.

Celtic is being advised by Gleacher Shacklock and Strand Partners Limited (Additional reporting by Mark Potter)


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