Central Rand Gold Ltd said on Thursday it would oppose a lawsuit by its Black Economic Empowerment consortium partner Puno Gold Investments over the exercise of a call option to buy Puno's 26 percent stake in its operating unit.

On April 7, Puno filed a lawsuit with a Johannesburg court to interdict Central Rand's operating unit Central Rand Gold South Africa (Pty) Ltd (CRGSA) and group company Central Rand Gold Netherlands Antilles (CRGNV) from exercising the option.

Puno, which had acquired the stake in CRGSA from CRGNV in June 2007, did not fulfil its funding obligations under a shareholders' agreement, Central Rand had said in February.

CRGNV holds the remaining 74 percent of CRGSA.

Central Rand Gold is confident that the contents of the shareholders' agreement relating to the funding and the consequences of a failure to find funding are valid, were validly exercised and intends to vigorously oppose the lawsuit, it said on Thursday.

The London-listed shares of Central Rand were down 0.5 pence at 43 pence at 0901 GMT. (Reporting by Balachander Surianarayanan in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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