Gabon to take stake in Eramet: company

17th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Gabonese President Ali Bongo and the chairman of Eramet have agreed in principle that Gabon will acquire a stake in the French mining group, the company said on Thursday.

"Agreement in principle has been reached on the participation of the Gabonese republic," an Eramet spokesman told AFP.

The size of the stake to be held by the central Afican state and a timetable for its participation have yet to be determined, he added.

But the Internet site of French financial paper Les Echos said Gabon would acquire about 4.0 or 5.0 percent of Eramet, which has a market capitalisation of 5.8 billion euros (7.1 billion dollars) and in which French nuclear group Areva has a 25.6-percent stake.

But the Internet site of French financial paper Les Echos said Gabon would acquire around 4.0 or 5.0 percent of Eramet, which has a market capitalisation of 5.8 billion euros (7.1 billion dollars).

The Eramet spokesman said another agreement in principle had been reached on an increase in Gabon's stake in Eramet manganese subsidiary Comilog from 25 to around 35 percent.

Eramet has big interests in huge nickel mining operations in French Pacific territory New Caledonia.

In addition Eramet chairman Patrick Buffet, at a meeting with Bongo in the Gabonese capital Libreville, called on Gabon to join Eramet in future mining projects in Africa.

Les Echos said Gabon had for several months expressed interest in increasing its involvement with Eramet. It said that France, which is competing with China in order to preserve French influence in Africa, has looked favourably on Gabonese intentions.

The agreements in Libreville come as Areva has been making clear its desire to sell its stake in Eramet to finance its own industrial development programme.

But given the strategic nature of Eramet's activities, Areva's stake should remain in state hands. Consequently France's Strategic Investment Fund would appear to be the logical replacement candidate.

Negotiations on the matter are reported to have been difficult.

Nevertheless, Areva and the Duval family, which has a stake of 36.44 percent, have renewed their shareholder pact in Eramet for another six months, Areva said earlier this week.

But Areva added: "The renewal of the shareholder pact does not change (Areva's) intentions" to sell its stake.


© 2010 AFP

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