Global miner Xstrata (XTA.L) said on Sunday it will match a rival bid for Australian listed miner Indophil Resources (IRN.AX) as competition for a giant undeveloped copper mine in the Philippines heats up.
Xstrata's initial A$398 million ($380 million) offer for Indophil, with which it co-owns the Tampakan lode in the southern island of Mindanao, was trumped last week by a A$488 million offer from a consortium of investment groups Crosby Capital and Alsons Group and Indophil Chief Executive Richard Laufmann.
Xstrata said it would now match that bid of A$1.28 a share.
Having now had time to further consider its options with regard to its offer for Indophil, Xstrata wishes to confirm that it now intends to match the offer made by the Crosby Capital Consortium by increasing its offer to A$1.28, Xstrata said in a statement on its Website.
The Tampakan deposit holds 11.6 million tonnes of copper and 14.6 million ounces of gold, and if in production today would rank as one of the world's richest.
Discovered in 1991, the mine has never left the drawing board, dogged by environmental and economic problems, political instability and laws restricting foreign ownership.
Last month, Lion Selection (LST.AX), Indophil's largest shareholder with 25.4 percent, agreed to sell 17.8 percent to Xstrata. Lion's shareholders are due to vote on the sale on Monday.
Xstrata has been buying copper, zinc and coal mines in Australia and nickel deposits in Canada and Africa as it builds up a diversified commodities operation in the face of surging global demand, especially from the growing economies of China and India.
Xstrata owns a 62.5 percent stake in Tampakan after paying Indophil $41 million. Indophil retained 34.2 percent, with a right to acquire a further 3.3 percent.
Deutsche Bank is financial adviser and Allens Arthur Robinson is legal adviser to Xstrata. Indophil is being advised by Gresham Advisory Partners.
(Reporting by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Anshuman Daga)
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