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Shareholder takes Noble Group to court; S&P flags 'cross-defaults'


Shareholder takes Noble Group to court; S&P flags 'cross-defaults'

Noble Group Ltd. shareholder Goldilocks Investment Co. filed a lawsuit against the Hong Kong-based commodities trader and its executives in the Singapore High Court, alleging the company inflated profits and its balance sheet to raise money, Bloomberg News reported, citing court documents. Separately, S&P Global Ratings downgraded the company's debt rating to D from CC after the company missed the principal and coupon payments on two of its outstanding U.S. dollar notes due March 20.

First Quantum confirms receiving 76.5B kwacha tax bill from Zambia

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. confirmed it received a 76.5 billion Zambian kwacha tax bill from the Zambian Revenue Authority for the alleged underpayment of customs duties. The company, however, refuted the assessment, saying it "does not appear to have any discernable basis of calculation." Reuters earlier reported that the regulator issued the bill to an unnamed "prominent mining company" for classifying imported goods as mining machinery, which attract no custom duty.

China Coal Energy's net profit rises to 3.49B yuan in FY'17

China Coal Energy Co. Ltd.'s attributable profit in 2017 reached 3.49 billion Chinese yuan, or 26 fen per share, up from 1.74 billion yuan, or 13 fen per share, in 2016. The company attributed the improvement in results to the stable coal price environment and improved operational efficiency. Revenue, meanwhile, jumped 33.7% to 81.12 billion yuan, while EBITDA climbed 27.8% to 16.22 billion yuan.


* S&P Global Ratings revised Vale SA's outlook from positive to stable, while affirming its BBB- global scale and brAAA national scale ratings. The rating agency also upgraded Vale's standalone credit profile from bbb- to bbb, based on a stronger balance sheet and further debt reduction.

* Rio Tinto plans to use excess liquidity to cut gross debt by about US$2.25 billion. The company issued redemption notices for about US$1.4 billion of its 2021 and 2022 U.S. dollar-denominated notes and launched a cash tender offer to buy back up to US$850 million of its euro-denominated notes due 2020 and 2024.

* Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques said lower corporate taxes in Australia are needed "sooner rather than later," The Australian reported. Jacques added that the mining giant would not issue a special shareholder payout prior to the release of its half-year results in August, The Australian Financial Review wrote.

* Vedanta Ltd. is planning to raise up to 45 billion Indian rupees by issuing secured, nonconvertible debentures in one or more tranches. A board meeting is scheduled for March 23.

* Glencore PLC launched an offering of US$500 million nondilutive cash-settled convertible bonds due 2025, guaranteed by Glencore, Glencore International AG and Glencore (Schweiz) AG.


* Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said the company is ready to sell its cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to China if the price was good, Reuters reported. However, the commodities trader said it is not changing its production strategy in the DRC.

* Union workers at First Quantum Minerals' Cobre Panama copper-gold-silver project ended a 12-day strike that started March 9, after reaching an agreement with the company in negotiations brokered by the government, La Prensa reported. Labor Minister Luis Ernesto Carles said that operations at Cobre Panama will resume in phases.

* Unionized workers at Antofagasta Plc's Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile agreed to extend a period of government-mediated talks to reach an agreement over a new labor contract, Reuters reported.

* Woomera Mining Ltd., formerly AusRoc Metals Ltd., was granted the exploration license applications covering its Carulinia potential iron oxide-copper-gold and the Labyrinth nickel-copper project in South Australia's Gawler Craton region.

* Zambia upgraded its copper production estimate for 2017 to 800,000 tonnes from 786,731 tonnes announced last month, after including output from small-scale producers, Reuters reported, citing Ministry of Mines Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda.


* Hecla Mining Co. and its President and CEO Phillips Baker has been found in violation of the "bad actor" law by the state of Montana, after his previous employer, Pegasus Gold Corp., left the state with a huge bill for pollution cleanups, The Associated Press reported. Montana's department of environmental quality director Tom Livers said that the Idaho-based company will need to return over US$30 million to resolve the situation.

* Eco Oro Minerals Corp. is seeking US$764 million in compensation from the Colombian government over issues it faced developing the Angostura gold-silver property. It is the first time Eco Oro has pinned down the amount of compensation it claims Colombia owes in damages, and it did so in a filing made to the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

* Ferrexpo Plc's full-year 2017 profit more than doubled to US$394 million, from US$189 million a year ago, as revenues increased 21% to US$1.20 billion. The company proposed a final and special dividend of 9.9 U.S. cents per share, bringing the full-year dividend to 16.5 cents per share.

* White Cliff Minerals Ltd. will advance its Aucu gold project in the Kyrgyz Republic and its cobalt-nickel assets in Western Australia. The company's main focus will be on its Aucu project, but the cobalt-nickel portfolio has "a realistic chance of being developed" in the current cobalt pricing environment, managing director Todd Hibberd said.

* B2Gold Corp. sought to reassure investors that it does not expect to be directly affected by a possible new mining code in Mali. The company said it has a stabilization agreement governing its Fekola gold mine in the country. B2Gold's stock dipped March 19 after a media report quoted a government minister as saying Mali would consider taking unilateral action in crafting the new mining code.

* Hengxing Gold Holding Co. Ltd.'s posttax net profit increased 18% year over year to 240.3 million Chinese yuan, while revenue jumped by 31% to 960.5 million yuan.

* Rotation Minerals Ltd. agreed to buy the Ruby silver property in British Columbia from a private seller for C$100,000.

* Encounter Resources Ltd. secured two new projects and are assessing them under the existing project generation alliance with Newcrest Mining Ltd.

* Tietto Minerals Ltd. increased its stake in the Abujar Middle tenement exploration license, part of the Abujar gold project in the Ivory Coast to 90%, from 50% previously.

* PJSC Polyus said during an Investor Day in London that it targets to produce up to 15% of the world's antimony, which the company plans to source from its Olimpiada gold deposit in Russia. The total amount of high-content antimony ore to be mined at the deposit between 2017 and 2026 is pegged at 11 million tonnes. Polyus has already inked deals for all of its 2018 production of the metal and is preparing to make its first delivery to China.


* The SEC said the District Court in Manhattan, N.Y., should deny a motion by Rio Tinto and two of its former executives to dismiss fraud charges filed against them in relation to coal assets in Mozambique, Reuters reported. According to the SEC, the defendants "violated multiple provisions of the federal securities laws by engaging in a prolonged fraudulent course of conduct."

* The SEC submitted a 2012 email by Rio Tinto's former managing director of Mozambique Coal, Eric Finlayson, as an exhibit in court. The email states that the constraints on transporting coal out of Mozambique had delivered a "huge value loss" to the company's business there, which it did not write down until the following year, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* The board of PJSC PhosAgro recommended that shareholders approve a dividend of 1.94 billion Russian rubles, or 15 rubles per share, to be paid from the company's 2017 net profit. The proposed dividend will be paid to shareholders on record as of June 13.

* The U.S. Department of Commerce made final determinations in the anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty investigations of imports of carbon and alloy steel wire rod from Italy and Turkey and its anti-dumping probe of carbon and alloy steel wire rod from South Korea, Spain and the U.K.

* Rio Tinto, which secured an exemption from U.S. tariffs for its Canadian aluminum exports, sees fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China weighing on its stock, Reuters reported.

* Prophecy Development Corp. will write off its Chandgana coal project investment in Mongolia in its 2017 results on the back of slower-than-expected development due to continued political uncertainty in the country. The company has invested over C$14 million in project development.

* A court in Brazil ordered Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional-owned Minérios Nacional to take emergency measures to guarantee the stability of two tailing dams at the Fernandinho iron ore mining complex in the country's Minas Gerais state, Metal Bulletin reported. The order is not expected to affect the mine's output, which is currently around 18,000 tonnes per month.

* Maanshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. booked a net profit of 1.39 billion Chinese yuan in the fourth quarter of 2017, alongside revenue of 20.36 billion yuan. Meanwhile, for full year 2017, the Chinese iron ore miner's attributable net profit increased 236% to 4.13 billion yuan, or 53.6 fen per share, from 1.23 billion yuan, or 16 fen per share, in the same year-ago period.

* Japanese aluminum buyers agreed to pay 25% higher premiums for metal deliveries in the second quarter, at US$129/tonne, Reuters reported, citing sources directly involved in the pricing talks. The agreed premium compares to US$103/t paid in the first quarter and is the highest in three years.

* A bankable feasibility study for Aguia Resources Ltd.'s Três Estradas phosphate project in Brazil estimated a posttax net present value of US$212 million, at a 5% discount rate, and internal rate of return of 18.3%.

* Fox River Resources Corp. completed the sale of 71 acres of land in Manitoba for C$1.0 million.


* Apollo Minerals Ltd. signed a heads of agreement to acquire a 75% interest in NeoMetal Spania SL, which holds the rights over the Aurenere tungsten-gold project in northern Spain, from NeoMetal SAS. The Aurenere project is contiguous with its Couflens tungsten-copper-gold project in southern France.

* Voyageur Minerals Ltd. inked a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with Innovation Metals Corp. to access the latter's proprietary processing technology for the production of high-purity barium sulfate, or barite.

* enCore Energy Corp. completed the acquisition of Metamin Enterprises Inc. unit Metamin US Inc. for C$55,000 and 3 million enCore shares at 5 Canadian cents apiece.


* The chief diplomatic adviser to the Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila defended recent changes to the country's mining laws, saying rising prices for metals such as cobalt required the government to take action to ensure more corporate profits are shared with Congolese citizens. The new law Kabila signed earlier in March, which raised royalties and taxes on operators, "says that the super profit that mining companies are making, let's share 50-50," Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi said.

* Juicy premiums in recent M&A offers suggest that some miners see value in beaten-down stocks, analysts said. Recently, the premium in a proposed merger between Alio Gold Inc. and Rye Patch Gold Corp. was 35%, based on a 20-day volume-weighted average price, while Hecla Mining offered a 59% premium to the 30-day volume-weighted average price in a takeover bid for Klondex Mines Ltd..

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