S.Africa's RBPlat says takeover uncertainty impacting operations
HARARE, March 8 (Reuters) - The extended battle between Impala Platinum and Northam Platinum to acquire Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) is impacting the takeover target's operations and staff retention, RBPlat said on Wednesday.
Mid-tier platinum group metal (PGM) producer RBPlat has been subject to a takeover battle for more than a year by the two bigger rivals, who covet its large, shallow, high quality assets.
Both Impala and Northam have built up significant shareholdings in RBPlat since late 2021 and currently own 40.71% and 34.52% of the takeover target, respectively.
In a statement accompanying its full-year results on Wednesday, RBPlat said the drawn-out bidding war was impacting its planning and forcing key staff to leave the company.
"The uncertainty caused by the delay in finalising the corporate action is what has become a key risk to managing our people, their morale and retention," RBPlat said.
Impala Chief Executive Officer Nico Muller last week expressed frustration at the delay in closing the deal but said South Africa's state-run asset manager, Public Investment Corporation (PIC), a potential kingmaker in the RBPlat transaction, would soon announce which bid it supports.
The PIC, which owns 20.01% of Impala, 17.15% of Northam and 9.42% of RBPlats, last week told Reuters it "supports any transaction that can demonstrate benefits for its clients, their beneficiaries and affected communities".
On Wednesday, RBPlat reported a 48% drop in annual profit because of lower production and surging costs.
Its headline earnings per share (HEPS) came in at 12.03 rand ($0.6465) in the 12 months to Dec. 31, compared to 23.25 rand during the previous year. HEPS is the main profit measure in South Africa.
RBPlats' platinum group metal production declined by 3.9% to 449,000 ounces in 2022 because of an extended safety stoppage at its Styldrift mine following a fatality in September.
Increased prices for steel, fuel and spare parts drove RBPlat's operating costs 22% higher during the year, to 20,465 rand per ounce.
RBPlat declared a final dividend of 5.35 rand per share, bringing the total for the year to 7.80 rand, returning a total of $118.8 million to shareholders.
(Reporting by Nelson Banya in Harare; Editing by Kim Coghill, Tom Hogue and Jamie Freed)
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