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Lundin's C$1.4B hostile bid tests Nevsun shareholders

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Lundin's C$1.4B hostile bid tests Nevsun shareholders

Lundin Mining Corp.'s C$1.4 billion takeover bid for Nevsun Resources Ltd. will put shareholders to the test with one key question: is it enough? Some analysts speculate that shareholders will hold out for a sweeter deal, while others expect that the offer will satisfy appetites.

"Nevsun will want a bit more, and I think a lot of shareholders are on the same page," Cormark Securities analyst Stefan Ioannou said.

Lundin formally launched a new bidding process July 26, after outlining its plans earlier in the month, with an all-cash offer for C$4.75 per share. In response, Nevsun advised shareholders to not take action and said Lundin's latest bid "ignored the fundamental value" of the company.

But John Tumazos, with John Tumazos Very Independent Research, said shareholders would warm up to Lundin's bid.

"I do not think Lundin Mining will sweeten its bid," he said. "And I expect Nevsun shareholders to embrace and accept its bid. If they reject it, Nevsun likely falls back to US$2.00 to US$2.50 per share."

Tumazos described Lundin's bid as more valuable now than when the original proposal was floated, given that copper prices have since decreased along with copper stocks.

"Lundin's offer is all cash, where most copper stocks fell 15% to 20%," he said, adding that Nevsun shares might have followed suit had Lundin not made the bid.

Ioannou, however, considered it possible that Lundin would try to make the deal friendly if enough shareholders rebuff it in the bidding process, imperiling the takeover. If so, he said Nevsun might accept a moderately higher offer, possibly in the range of C$5 to C$6 per share.

Nevsun's core assets are the Timok project in Serbia, which is an undeveloped gold-copper deposit, and the Bisha zinc mine in Eritrea.

So far, Lundin has not received significant shareholder support for the proposal in public.

Ioannou noted that M&G Investment Management Ltd., said to be Nevsun's second-largest shareholder, was on side. But he called M&G Investment an "outlier" among shareholders.

"It'll come down to where the rest of the group stands," Ioannou said.

Jamie Horvat, director of global equities at M&G Investment, told Reuters in early May that the fund was "positively inclined" to the original offer from Lundin. That offer involved a mix of shares and cash with an implied value of C$5 per share. Lundin subsequently revised its offer to C$4.75 per share, but using all cash.