European Goldfields mulls Qatari fallback option

Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:12pm EST
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By Julie Crust and Clara Ferreira-Marques

LONDON (Reuters) - European Goldfields EGU.TO EGUq.L, which has agreed to a C$2.5 billion ($2.4 billion) takeover by Canadian group Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO: Quote), is hoping to keep an investment deal with Qatar's sovereign wealth fund as a fallback option.

Qatar Holdings agreed in October to provide a $to back the deal when they vote in February.

"All we are doing with the 600 million project financing loan to European Goldfields, which has development stage assets in Greece and Romania, in its first investment in a gold miner. It also provided a $150 million loan note and a related warrant issue, and became a major shareholder, with a 9.9 percent stake.

Eldorado's strong balance sheet means European Goldfields is unlikely to need the cash from Qatar if the takeover goes through - but it does need two-thirds of shareholders Qatari financing is postponing or adjourning the vote technically," European Goldfields' chief financial officer, Tim Morgan-Wynne, told reporters on a conference call. "We will just push the voting on the Qatari transaction until after shareholders have been able to vote on this (Eldorado deal)."

He said Chairman Martyn Konig had spoken to the Qataris, who were kept abreast of talks, and "everything is moving on track".

Qatar declined to comment on the future of the financing package or on the takeover, which could see the Gulf state make a profit on its shares. It bought the stock at an average of C$10 - below the C$13.08 per share value of the Eldorado offer.

European Goldfields shareholders had been due to vote this week on the Qatar financing. That ballot will be postponed until shareholders vote in mid-February on the proposed takeover.

The takeover requires the support of at least two-thirds of the votes cast by shareholders of European Goldfields and Qatar currently owns about 10 percent of the company's outstanding shares. The fund has not given any indication on how it plans to vote its shares.   Continued...