The mining and metallurgical company Norilsk Nickel, whose largest shareholder is Vladimir Potanin (30.4%), had an opportunity to obtain $ 271.3 million for its African company Nkomati (a mine with reserves of 113.5 million tonnes of ore and two concentrators of total The capacity of 5 thousand tons of nickel), which it owns since 2007 and is trying to sell the last three years.
Norilsk Nickel received 50% in Nkomati (the remaining shares are from African Rainbow Minerals) and 85% in Tati Nickel Mining (the remaining shares are from the government of Botswana) as a result of the acquisition of LionOre Mining International Ltd in 2007. The companies are developing large copper-nickel deposits in South Africa and Botswana respectively. In 2014, the Russian company, having decided to get rid of non-core and foreign assets, agreed to sell its African projects to BCL for $ 337 million. In 2015, the deal to sell Tati Nickel was closed (with Norilsk Nickel estimating its share as negative), and 50% of Nkomati BCL did not fulfill its obligations, although Norilsk Nickel eventually reduced Nkomati's cost taking into account the drop in nickel prices to $ 271.3 million.
In October 2016, the Government of Botswana initiated the voluntary winding-up of BCL. In November 2016, Norilsk Nickel applied to the London Court and the Botswana Court to obtain payment of this amount.
The investment group Emirates Investment House (EIH) from the UAE, representing the interests of the Emir of Dubai family, showed interest in buying BCL, said Nigel Dixon-Warren, a consultant in taxes and transactions for KPMG, which deals with the liquidation of BCL. "It takes the dispute with Norilsk Nickel - this is one of the terms of the deal," Dixon-Warren explained. The Minister of Mineral Resources, Energy and Ecology of Botswana Sadiq Kebonang has repeatedly spoken about the interest of the investor from the UAE. A source close to the management of Norilsk Nickel also knows about the interest of the group from the UAE to BLC.
By the end of April, the EIH should prepare a proposal for the price it is willing to pay for Nkomati, the KPMG consultant said. The government of Botswana has already allowed the Arab company to conduct due diligence of assets. However, the transaction is possible only after the completion of the preliminary liquidation of the company, which is now going on, he says. "Emirates Investment House is very interested in buying BCL shares, but their sale is possible only after the liquidation is over - when the issue with creditors is resolved," he said.
In the government of Botswana, RBC received no comment, Emirates Investment House did not respond to RBC's request. A representative of Norilsk Nickel said that "we welcome any actions that will lead to the fact that the deal will be closed."
Managing Partner of the law firm "Yushin and partners" Anatoly Yushin believes that the greatest risk for Norilsk Nickel is the bankruptcy of BCL and the subsequent sale of its assets at bargain prices. "In this case, the company will really lose money, and now BCL is only in the preliminary stage of liquidation and can be sold to the new owner after settlements with creditors," he believes. At the same time, the senior lawyer of Nektorov, Saveliev & Partners law firm Mikhail Khaletsky notes that "if an investor buys shares of a Botswana company, then Norilsk will have the opportunity to claim money from her, but the Arab investor will not be responsible to the Russian company." The Arab investor, in his opinion, can demand a discount in determining the selling price of shares from the current owner - the Botswana government, "since the satisfaction of the claim of Norilsk Nickel will lead to the withdrawal of money from the Botswana company, and consequently, to the reduction of the value of the purchased asset."
Analyst Alor Broker Kirill Yakovenko believes that it is unlikely that Norilsk Nickel will win a court ruling from the Botswana government in a Botswana court, from which it is necessary to obtain a permit for prosecution in London, as BCL is in the process of liquidation.
Emirates Investment House is part of the multi-million dollar investment empire of the Emirates House Group. According to Botswana Guardian, the group acquires a Botswana asset in the interest of the family of the emir of Dubai, which is close to the chairman of the board of directors of the holding Abdullah Mangush. "Sheikhs have repeatedly stated that the purchase of BCL assets will give them access to Botswana's rich mineral base," the newspaper said. The total debt of BCL to creditors is about $ 85 million. According to the publication, the company will need about $ 720 million to get a place on the attractive mineral market in Botswana.
In October 2016, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Energy and the Environment of Botswana in an interview with Reuters said that the country's government does not have the money necessary for the work of BCL. "The decline in copper quality, which has been observed for many years and deteriorated due to the recent fall in commodity prices, has complicated the operation of the mine," said Kebonang. As a result, the government launched a process of voluntary liquidation.