Zambezi to Help Northam on Platinum Deals as Stock Debuts on JSE

South African Mining
A mineworker uses a drill on the rock face as he works deep underground at the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd is the world's second-biggest platinum producer. Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg News

Zambezi Platinum Ltd. plans to help Northam Platinum Ltd. make acquisitions and expand operations after paying 4.6 billion rand ($384 million) as part of a transaction for a 31.4 percent stake in the South African mining company.

Zambezi, owned by black investors, listed preference shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Monday that it sold at 41 rand each. Legislation requires that non-white South Africans own at least 26 percent of mines in the country, a policy aimed at redressing economic disparities created during apartheid, which ended in 1994.

“We are not just passengers in the vehicle, we are very much active participants,” Lazarus Zim, chief executive officer of Zambezi and Northam’s chairman, said by phone from Johannesburg on May 8. “We are in a position to hopefully grow the company significantly.”

Zim is the former CEO of London-based Anglo American Plc’s local unit, ex-chairman of Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. and Telkom South Africa Ltd., the continent’s largest fixed-line operator, and a past president of the nation’s Chamber of Mines. His Afripalm Resources helped to facilitate Northam’s acquisition of the Booysendal property in 2007, where the company has since built a new mine, which is operational.

Preference-share investors will be paid an annual dividend at South Africa’s benchmark retail-lending rate, known as the prime rate, plus 3.5 percentage points, according to a notice on Northam’s website. Almost 160 million securities will be issued on May 18 following an offer to existing Northam investors, Zambezi said in a statement Monday.

‘Great Believer’

Northam, which owns the world’s deepest platinum mine, will use the proceeds of the Zambezi deal to pursue deals and expand mines, it said in October. It announced a deal in February to buy the Everest mine, which is contiguous to Booysendal, for 450 million rand from Aquarius Platinum Ltd. The stock is this year’s best performer among six members of the FTSE/JSE Africa Platinum Mining Index, with gains of 31 percent.

Prices for platinum, used to clean vehicle emissions and for jewelry, have tumbled 36 percent since 2011 as excessive stockpiles compensated for production shortages.

“I’m a great believer in platinum, in spite of the current subdued sentiment,” Zim said. “I’m very bullish about the metal going forward because it is such an essential part of life.”

Northam announced the transaction with Zambezi in October after the stakes of its previous black owners, Afripalm and Mvelaphanda Holdings Ltd., got eroded as the investment companies had to sell part of their holdings to repay loans.

“Everyone party to this transaction is protected from the vicissitudes of the market through the ring-fencing of Zambezi,” Zim said in the Monday statement.

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