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23.04.2004 Business & Finance

Ashanti Deal to Be Sealed Today

By Financial Gazette
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THE proposed merger between Ashanti Goldfields of Ghana, which has mining interests in Zimbabwe, and the South Africa-based AngloGold has neared completion and comes up for confirmation at the High Court in Accra today.

Lawyers acting for Ashanti have said that today's hearing would give shareholders an opportunity to oppose the proposed merger.

The move will create AngloGold Ashanti, which will overtake America's Newmont as the world's biggest gold producer.

Ashanti shareholders have already assented to the deal, which they voted in favour of at an extraordinary general meeting held on April 7 2004.

Prior to that, the Ghanaian legislature had also voted in favour of the deal, which will create a giant with a market capitalisation of about USD11.5 billion, production of about 7.5 million ounces of gold, resources of 257 million tonnes spread across the continent and reserves of 82 million ounces.

With the requisite votes having been achieved, the transaction now requires Ghanaian regulatory approval through confirmation of the scheme at tomorrow's High Court hearing.

Subject to approval at the Accra High Court, the merger is expected to become effective on Monday.

Under the deal, which was first mooted in May 2003, Ashanti shareholders will receive 0.29 New AngloGold shares for each Ashanti share, while holders of Ashanti ZDRs may exchange their holding for certificated New AngloGold Ashanti shares or elect for new AngloGold Ashanti ADSs.

Zimbabwean equity market analysts have said that there will be no Zimbabwe listing of AngloGold Ashanti, although the company would maintain its offshore listings.

This has fed market speculation that Ashanti, which listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 1996, might abandon its Freda Rebecca mine in Bindura.

Independence Gold Mines, controlled by South African-based Metallon Corporation, has been linked with the possible purchase of the mine, which recorded a huge drop in gold production from 98 255 ounces in 2002 to 51 091 ounces in 2003.

Listed on the Zimbabwe, Johannesburg, Ghana, London, Toronto and New York stock exchanges, Ashanti has some 127 million ordinary shares on the Zimbabwe register.

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