de crespigny sees 'very exciting' future for mim

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    De Crespigny sees 'very exciting' future for MIM
    By James Chessell with agencies
    May 27 2003

    Hat in the ring ... Robert de Crespigny.

    Already racing along in top gear, the MIM defence campaign gathered pace yesterday with no less than three groups appealing to shareholders as market doubts over Xstrata's $5 billion bid rose.

    Amid speculation US copper giant Phelps Dodge - Phelps, which previously made a scrip and cash proposal to the MIM board - was waiting in the wings, MIM shares closed 3c lower at $1.54 as investors continue to bet that the Swiss group's $1.72 share bid will be voted down at the June 6 shareholder meeting.

    One-time Normandy boss Robert de Crespigny, who is assembling a "board in exile" as an alternative to MIM's directors, yesterday rejected Xstrata's claims the Queensland miner would struggle should the takeover fail.

    "The picture being painted is that if this does not get up it is the end of the world for the company," Mr de Crespigny said "But this is not true at all, far from it, in fact. I think MIM has a very exciting future."

    One of MIM senior executives, John Gooding, worked at Normandy for 12 years and Mr de Crespigny was quick to single out other management yesterday. "Me and others are very keen to back [dissenting managing director] Vince Gauci who, we think, is the premier chief executive in the mining industry in Australia," he said.

    While Mr Gauci and Platinum Asset Management have said they were happy to work with the present board, which supports Xstrata's bid, Mr de Crespigny and others see fresh directors as imperative if the bid fails.

    To succeed, Xstrata needs 75 per cent of shares voted and 50 per cent of shareholders who vote to support the bid. With MIM's 69,000-strong register full of retail investors, both sides are trying desperately to win over the "mums and dads".

    They will soon receive a second letter in two weeks from MIM urging them to vote as well as a missive from Xstrata Coal boss and Broken Hill boy Peter Coates, who will tell shareholders the London-listed Swiss-owned coal group was committed to Australia.

    "I believe that by voting for the combination of MIM and Xstrata, you are voting to secure MIM's future," Mr Coates says in his letter. "Our copper head office will be in Brisbane and our coal head office will continue to be in Sydney."

    Xstrata continues to push its case through newspapers advertisements and phone canvassing, which suggests roughly two thirds of shareholders intend to accept the offer, if they vote.

    Meanwhile, Platinum, which lodged 7800 "no" proxies on Friday, will update its votes on Wednesday. MIM's share registry is keeping mum about its proxy flow.

    "To guess about how the vote would go would be pure speculation," said one institutional dealer. However, analysts such as UBS Warburg's Shaun Giacomo predict late voting will be in Xstrata's favour as investors are spurred on by the falling share price, now 19c below the bid price.
 
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