de crespigny sees 'very exciting' future for mim, page-3

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    more recruits march into battle for mim More recruits march into battle for MIM
    May 27 2003
    By James Chessell

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

    Amid rumours that US copper giant Phelps Dodge - which previously made a scrip and cash proposal to the MIM board - was waiting in the wings, MIM shares closed 3¢ lower at $1.54. Investors continued to bet Swiss-based Xstrata's $1.72-a-share bid would be voted down at the June 6 shareholder meeting.

    One-time Normandy boss Robert Champion de Crespigny, who is assembling a "board in exile" as an alternative to MIM's directors, yesterday rejected Xstrata's claims that 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's 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 are 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". Shareholders 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 coal group is 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 newspaper advertisements and phone canvassing, which suggests roughly two-thirds of shareholders intend to accept the offer, if they vote.

    From The Age
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