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First Quantum Minerals Draws Takeover Interest

Vinicy Chan, Dinesh Nair and Scott Deveau

(Bloomberg) -- First Quantum Minerals Ltd. shares posted their biggest two-day jump since early 2016, after people with knowledge of the matter said the owner of Africa’s biggest copper mine was drawing preliminary takeover interest from global miners.

Vancouver-based First Quantum, which has a market capitalization of C$8.42 billion ($6.35 billion), is working with defense advisers to examine its options, the people said. The company attracted potential buyers after losing about half its value in the five years through Wednesday.

The miner hasn’t yet received any formal takeover offers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Jiangxi Copper Co., China’s top producer of the metal, has built up a stake of less than 10% in First Quantum in recent months, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Shares of First Quantum climbed 8.1% to close at C$12.21 in Toronto Friday. That takes the gains since Wednesday to 20%, the biggest two-day rally in more than three years.

First Quantum controls the open-pit Kansanshi mine in Zambia, which has 340,000 metric tons of annual copper production capacity. The company has been at loggerheads with the government of the southern African country over issues from royalty increases to the planned introduction of a sales tax.

It also owns other assets around the world including the Sentinel copper operation in Zambia, Las Cruces in Spain and the Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia. First Quantum also started ramping up production at the giant Cobre Panama copper development project in the central American country earlier this year.

No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to any transaction, the people said. Representatives for First Quantum didn’t respond to requests for comment. A representative for Jiangxi Copper said he wasn’t aware of the stake purchase.

Copper, used in everything from automobiles to plumbing pipes, has dropped in five of the past six months as trade-war fears heat up and demand appears to be slowing in top-user China. Still, the metal’s long-term prospects are seen as strong amid under-investment in new mine supply and surging usage in electric vehicles.

(Updates with closing share price in fifth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Steven Frank and Winnie Zhu.

To contact the reporters on this story: Vinicy Chan in New York at vchan91@bloomberg.net;Dinesh Nair in London at dnair5@bloomberg.net;Scott Deveau in New York at sdeveau2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Scent at bscent@bloomberg.net, ;Liana Baker at lbaker75@bloomberg.net, ;Luzi Ann Javier at ljavier@bloomberg.net, Steven Frank

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