July 31, 2019 / 4:00 AM / 20 days ago

Australian private equity firm EMR weighs copper mines IPO

MELBOURNE, July 31 (Reuters) - Australian private equity firm EMR Capital is considering selling its four copper mining assets through an initial public offering sometime after 2019, looking to tap investor appetite for a copper miner as demand for the red metal is set to grow.

EMR’s chief executive Jason Chang said on Wednesday it is looking to package the Capricorn and Golden Grove mines in Australia, an 80% stake in the Lubambe mine in Zambia and its Redhill prospect in Chile into one entity that could potentially be listed.

“We’ve been approached by a number of parties to think about it,” Chang told Reuters in an interview. “You’ve got strong margins today and a good growth story as well which collectively represent an interesting platform.”

He declined to put a valuation on the assets, for which EMR paid more than $300 million, but said they produce more than 100,000 tonnes a year of copper, and the goal is to double output. EMR doesn’t disclose the total value of its assets, but its two mining funds raised a total of $1.31 billion.

The company has begun sounding out institutional investors but does not plan to go ahead with a float this year. “It’s not a 2019 initiative,” Chang said.

Trade sales would also be an option, but would probably involve a few deals, the EMR CEO said.

EMR bought the Capricorn mine in 2015 for A$15 million ($10.3 million) and brought it out of care and maintenance mode before restarting production. It bought the stake in Lubambe for $97 million, and bought Golden Grove for $210 million.

A deal to buy BHP Group’s Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile for up to $320 million collapsed at the end of last year after EMR did not meet financing conditions.

EMR's biggest deal so far has been the joint $2.25 billion acquisition with Indonesia's PT Adaro Energy Tbk of an 80% stake in the Kestrel coking coal mine from Rio Tinto last year. (reut.rs/2K71iYk) ($1 = 1.4520 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Sonali Paul Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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