UPDATE 12.20pm: Noble Mineral Resources has reaffirmed its support for Zhongrun's proposed $84.7 million investment in the company despite a sweetened rival offer from Resolute Mining.
Zhongrun and Resolute are vying for the affections of Noble to gain exposure to the company's flagship Bibiani gold project in Ghana.
But China's Zhongrun has the inside running by being first to move on the target, a month ahead of Resolute's approach.
Noble said today after careful consideration of the competing proposals, its board remained firmly of the view that the Zhongrun transaction was in the best interests of all Noble shareholders, and continued to be the superior available option for addressing Noble's financing requirements.
Noble's managing director Wayne Norris said the Zhongrun transaction continued to offer Noble shareholders superior value and greater certainty than the Resolute proposal.
"Importantly, the Zhongrun transaction also treats all of our shareholders equally," he said.
"In addition, it will see Noble with a much stronger balance sheet and financial flexibility to maximise the value of Bibiani and pursue other value enhancing opportunities."
Mr Norris rejected claims the company had not engaged with Resolute, saying it had pointed out concerns in the offer which had not been addressed.
"Noble cannot afford any further delays in the receipt of funding that is urgently required to maintain ongoing operations and meet current liabilities," he said.
Mr Norris urged shareholder to vote in favour of the Zhongrun transaction at a meeting next Wednesday.
Under the two-tranche $84.7 million Zhongrun deal, the company would take an initial 41.5 per cent stake in Noble, rising to 51.6 per cent if options were converted.
Resolute, which last month secured a 19.9 per cent stake in Noble through a share swap deal, had offered $85 million in financing to Noble, along with a $US15 million debt facility which could be drawn upon immediately.Noble shares were flat at 13 cents at 12.20pm while Resolute shares were also steady at $1.905.
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