GABORONE – The government said it will make a final decision on the future of BCL mines on June 15 after an exclusivity period granted to a suitor, Emirates Investment House (EIH), lapsed without an offer.
Minerals Minister Sadique Kebonang said government has not agreed to any deal with the Dubai based company and dismissed recent reports that government has signed a deal with EIH.
Kebonang also said government will not give away its assets for free, adding that they are still open to any offers.
The provisional liquidator of BCL Group – the holding company for BCL copper and nickel mine – Nigel Dixon-Warren of KPMG – recently told Mmegi newspaper that the exclusivity period with EIH lapsed at the end of April and it now appeared the Emirati firm would not be making an offer.
“Since no offer was received before end of April, we have reopened bidding to any other interested investors. Already we have had one company from the region that has expressed interest to buy part or all of the BCL mine assets,” Dixon-Warren is quoted as saying.
According to the paper, through a memorandum of understanding signed in February, Botswana offered BCL to EIH for a token price of $1 with the Dubai firm in turn taking over BCL’s debts.
At the time it was placed under provisional liquidation in October last year, BCL owed creditors about one billion pula ($97,30 million), while Russia’s Norilsk Nickel was demanding $271 million from the state-owned mining company over a botched deal to buy a 50 percent stake in South Africa’s Nkomati Mine.
It has since emerged that the liquidator of BCL has received a high level offer from a company within the SADC region, which is interested in primarily buying Tati Mine (subsidiary of BCL) at this stage and possibly BCL when the final liquidation takes place.
According to Dixon-Warren, EIH had been granted an exclusivity period, which lapsed at the end of April and the process was now open to other suitors.
“EIH had an exclusivity period until April 30, 2017 where they were the only company we were dealing with.
“Since I am not aware of an offer EIH made within that period we have opened the bidding to everyone for the sake of the creditors,” he said.
“I have since received a bid from another company that is only interested in Tati Mine for now and maybe other assets at a later stage,” Dixon-Warren is further quoted as saying.
With a second bidder now in the picture, Dixon-Warren said it would be up to the creditors to decide which offer was most competitive.
“Whatever offer will be made, the creditors will have the final decision. But with the current lawsuits that have been instituted by Norilsk, we might have to engage the Russians to allow us to sell if we get a firm offer,” said Dixon-Warren, who declined to name the second bidder.