Noble Mineral Resources has postponed today's shareholder meeting at which investors were to vote on a deal that could have seen a Chinese group take control of the embattled Ghana-focused gold producer.
Last night's surprise announcement was a response to the emergence of Resolute Mining as a rival white knight for Noble.
Noble has rescheduled today's meeting by one week to next Wednesday.
The meeting was to consider a package that would see Zhongrun Mining Investment take a 41.5 per cent stake in Noble, rising to 51.6 per cent if options were converted.
But last week Resolute asked shareholders to vote against the package after securing a 19.9 per cent stake in Noble through a share swap deal en route to offering Noble an $85 million convertible note funding deal. Yesterday Resolute modified the terms of its refinancing offer, including offering $US15 million in immediate debt relief.
Noble last night said it needed more time to consider Resolute's revised offer. It is understood there has been no direct discussion between the two camps and, with the Noble board firmly in favour of the Zhongrun package until yesterday, the move has sparked speculation that proxy votes submitted before the meeting may have swung in Resolute's direction.
Noble shares closed up 0.5¢ at 14¢ yesterday, with Resolute shares up 2.5¢ at $1.815.Resolute's initial bid had included an offer to guarantee up to $US20 million of Noble's debts, but the offer drew criticism as it could require negotiation to win the support of major creditor Investec. Resolute's new offer would displace Zhongrun's $16.3 million cash injection, potentially winning over undecided shareholders.
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