April 24, 2018 / 9:59 AM / 7 months ago

Centerra Gold says no interest in offer for Kyrgyz mine

ALMATY (Reuters) - Canada’s Centerra Gold (CG.TO) said on Tuesday it had received an unsolicited bid for its Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan from Chaarat Gold Holdings (CGH) (CGH.L) but that it had informed the London-listed company that it was not interested in the offer.

Chaarat said earlier on Tuesday it had it had made an offer to Centerra to buy Kyrgyzstan’s largest gold mine for an undisclosed cash sum, in a deal that would also involve Kyrgyz state firm Kyrgyzaltyn.

Toronto-based Centerra said it had received the non-binding offer last month and had “promptly communicated to Chaarat’s advisers that it has no interest in the transaction proposed by Chaarat.”

In recent meetings senior Kyrgyz officials have confirmed to Centerra that the government also is not interested in pursuing the transaction proposed by Chaarat, Centerra said.

Centerra and Kyrgyzstan have had a series of disputes over sharing profits from Kumtor, and Chaarat said it was offering the Central Asian nation a way to increase its stake in the project’s cash flow in the three-way deal.

Under the proposal, Chaarat and Kyrgyzaltyn would acquire Kumtor from Centerra, Chaarat said. Chaarat would then operate the mine, while Kyrgyzaltyn would own Kumtor’s preferred equity and be entitled to “50 percent of the economic benefits” of Kumtor.

Chaarat said it would fund its portion of the consideration with cash, and Kyrgyzaltyn - subject to the Kyrgyz government’s approval - would transfer most of the shares it currently holds in Centerra back to Centerra.

Chaarat said it planned debt and equity financing for the deal and had the backing of “two major international financial institutions.”

Under its current arrangement with Centerra, Kyrgyzstan owns a 26.6 percent stake in the Canadian company, the biggest foreign investor and taxpayer in the former Soviet republic, contributing up to 10 percent of its gross domestic product.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Mark Potter and Bill Trott

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