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What might have been: Qatar looked at Sirius Minerals rescue package

The Qatar Investment Authority looked at a potential equity raise, according to a report

Sirius Minerals PLC -
The plans were sacked off, it seems

Sirius Minerals PLC (LON:SXX) was close to being saved by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund before a take-over was agreed with Anglo American plc (LON:AAL).

What’s more, with bridge finance it might have been able to keep the company listed on the stock market as it reached the next stage of development at its Woodsmith potash mine.

After Sirius slammed the brakes on its US$500mln bond offering last August, the Qatar Investment Authority was poised to try and raise equity as part of a “short-term bridge proposal”, according to the Evening Standard.

The Qataris, who bailed out Barclays during the financial crisis, bought a 3% stake in Sirius last May, when the shares were trading at above 15p.

However, the QIA backed off after Anglo made its offer in January, even though this was at a price of just 5.5p, having sunk below 3p at one stage in between.

One of Sirius’s other major shareholders, Jupiter Asset Management, has urged the company to seek an alternative rescue deal to the Anglo offer.

It emerged last month in Sirius’s announcement on Anglo's takeover that said the North Yorkshire miner had been approached by an unnamed consortium offering a £519mln funding package to cover the next phase of work at the Woodsmith mine.

Sirius said the group's offer was not viable but it is not known if the consortium, which is through to be US led, is still pursuing a deal with just weeks to go before the Anglo deal is completed. 

Last week, Jupiter fund manager Steve Davies, Sirius’s second-largest investor, said: “We would like the board to pursue any alternative options, including the consortium of financial investors who submitted a proposal for a £519m funding package earlier in January, within the remaining time available.

“We would like to be able to consider a stand-alone financing proposal that would enable shareholders to remain invested in the project, as an alternative to the existing offer from Anglo American.”

Sirius management has, however, insisted that there is not likely to be an alternative to the Anglo offer other than liquidation, warning that it would run out of cash by April without a rescue deal.

Sirius said the shareholder meeting – where an estimated 85,000 small retail investors will vote to decide the Anglo bid – will be on 3 March, with a court hearing on or before 20 March, which if it all passes smoothly will see the company’s shares delisted on 21 March.

Quick facts: Sirius Minerals PLC

Price: 5.49 GBX

LSE:SXX
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £385.41 m
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