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Ashanti Goldfields Co. (ASL) Message Board

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  • Jademann Jademann Feb 14, 2000 11:31 AM Flag

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    FOCUS-Ashanti drops finance chief, talks in

    (Adds meeting in Accra today, government criticism,

    By Ben Hirschler

    LONDON, Feb 14
    (Reuters) - Ashanti Goldfields Co Ltd [AGC.GH] on Monday
    ditched its chief financial officer, Mark Keatley, as the
    Ghana government convened talks in Accra to seek a new
    board line-up for the troubled mining company.

    Ghana's biggest company, which lost a court battle with
    dissident shareholders last week, said Keatley would step
    down after the next annual general meeting on April

    Disgruntled investors, led by Adryx
    Mining and Metals Ltd, had demanded Keatley should go
    following $570 million of gold hedging losses which brought
    the firm to the brink of default.

    The company
    also confirmed the resignation of Ghanaian Finance
    Minister Richard Kwame Peprah as chairman and said that
    Phillip Tarsh, its senior independent non-executive
    director, whould take over as acting chair.

    is under mounting pressure after an Accra court
    ruling last week ordered it to hold an extraordinary
    shareholders' meeting -- scheduled for March 3 -- to consider
    demands for board changes and the sale or part-sale of

    Both the dissident shareholders and the
    government say the firm has mismanaged a liquidity crisis
    caused by a spike up in gold prices last October.

    "Why did management wait so long to implement
    solutions which they were advised of last year? Because of
    delay, Ashanti is currently engaged in very delicate
    negotations with the members of its banking syndicate," the
    government said in a statement received here.


    Ashanti -- which was
    blocked by the government from pursuing its favoured
    option of merging with Lonmin Plc [LMI.L] -- said the
    comments from the government, which holds a 20 percent
    stake and golden share in Ashanti, were regrettable.

    Shares in the company, which were floated at $20 in
    1994, sank to a new low of $2 as the market fretted its
    future was now hanging in the balance.

    had been due to sign a $100 million loan last
    Thursday to pay for work on the promising Geita gold
    project in Tanzania in which it aims to sell a 50 percent
    stake. But that refinancing plan was thwarted by the
    court ruling which barred it from any new financial
    transactions until after the EGM.

    The court wrangle
    has also put back the sale of the Geita stake.
    Ashanti had requested binding bids from potential buyers
    -- thought to include Barrick [ABX.TO] and AngloGold
    [ANGJ.J] -- by February 11. But on Monday it said the
    timetable would have to be delayed until current
    uncertainties were resolved.

    Time is also running out,
    once again, on its exemption from paying margin calls
    on its derivatives book. Earlier this month
    Ashanti's counterparty banks agreed a further rollover of
    the deadline, but only until February 17.

    Meanwhile, Ashanti faces another court challenge from
    dissatisfied shareholders, in the United States, where law
    firm Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach has launched
    a class action suit.
    ((London newsroom +44 171
    542 4299, fax +44 171 583 3769, e-mail:
    REUTERS Rtr 08:12 02-14-00

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