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irl lends monarch 7 million

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    India gives Monarch a friendly prop
    Email Print Normal font Large font Jamie Freed
    February 23, 2008

    THE West Australian mining identity Michael Kiernan's cash-strapped gold producer, Monarch Gold, is being propped up by another one of his companies, India Resources.

    In December, India lent $7 million to Monarch, just one month after the Indian miner had raised $18.7 million to fund an expansion of its copper mine.

    A recent quarterly report revealed Monarch - including the $7 million loan - had a cash balance of only $1.45 million at the end of the December quarter. India had $5.4 million in remaining cash after lending $7 million to Monarch. Neither Monarch nor India is cash-flow positive on an operating basis.

    Mr Kiernan, a director of seven resources companies, is the executive chairman of Monarch Gold and the vice-chairman of India Resources.

    The loan was not discussed in either company's quarterly report, although India disclosed an outgoing $7 million loan to an unnamed party and Monarch received a $7 million loan from an unnamed party in their respective cash flow statements.

    "A loan of that size should be disclosed," the Fat Prophets analyst Gavin Wendt said.

    "It would be materially significant to an India Resources shareholder. That's not to imply anything sinister in any shape or form, but it's significant enough to be broadcast to the market. It's not just something that should be applied to India, but to all small companies."

    Mr Kiernan said he was aware some "smash-and-grab prostitute day-traders" had concerns over the arrangements.

    "What's the point of disclosing it?" he said. "It's not hidden. There is nothing at risk."

    A spokesman for the Australian Securities Exchange said the disclosure around the loan was sufficient.

    Their annual reports show that India last year lent $4.5 million to Monarch in two secured, interest-bearing tranches, both of which were repaid. Monarch also provided India with $648,000 on an unsecured, interest-free basis, which was repaid.

    Mr Kiernan said the recent $7 million loan was a secured, short-term arrangement paying 2 per cent more than deposit rates and had been approved by the non-overlapping directors of the two companies.

    "The way we operate here is that the groups that are associated with each other do support each other financially," he said.

    "This is not an unusual occurrence."

    Mr Kiernan insisted Monarch would have stayed afloat without the loan during the December quarter, but would have been forced to raise equity at a heavy discount.

    Monarch last week raised $10 million - down from an initial target of $25 million - at 50c a share, which was a 19 per cent discount to its share price ahead of the issue. It will soon seek more funding in Canada.

    India's managing director, Eoin Rothery, said there was a schedule for the loan to be repaid in full by the first week of April.

    "India Resources in the next two to three months will be paid back in full," Mr Kiernan said, adding that Monarch should be cash-flow positive in April.
 
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