VANCOUVER, BC (September 14, 2011) Clearlease Financial Reports Uranium developer Hathor Exploration Ltd. formally rejected a hostile $520-million bid September 14, 2011 from mining giant Cameco on Wednesday, saying the offer undervalues the junior Vancouver company and its prized Saskatchewan assets.
Hathor (TSX:HAT) called the offer “predatory” and “opportunistic,” and said the it doesn’t adequately reflect the value of the flagship Roughrider deposit in northern Saskatchewan.
“As such, the board strongly recommends that Hathor shareholders do not tender their shares to this Cameco offer,” chief executive Michael Gunning told investors on a conference call.
“In order to do that, you need to do nothing at this time, in order to send Cameco the message that you won’t sell your shares in top quality assets for a bargain basement price.”
Cameco (TSX:CCO), one of the world’s largest uranium miners, made its offer just weeks before Hathor was set to complete a preliminary economic assessment for Roughrider.
The Cameco bid would see the company develop the Roughrider uranium deposits using its own processing mill and other operations and infrastructure it already has in northern Saskatchewan — thereby reducing project costs.
On Tuesday, Hathor released the results of the assessment, which found Roughrider could be worth as much as $1.5 billion before taxes.
“Since we believe that the release of the preliminary economic assessment report on Roughrider would also have had a positive effect on the Hathor share price, we see a wide gap between what Cameco is offering and what Hathor shareholders actually deserve,” Gunning told investors.
Indeed, Hathor shares rose seven cents to $4.17 on Tuesday. But by Wednesday afternoon, they had fallen more than three per cent, or 13 cents, to $4.04.
That’s still well above the Cameco per-share offer price of $3.75, indicating the market expects a better offer to come along — from Cameco itself or from a white knight.
In a separate release Wednesday, Cameco showed no signs it plans to sweeten its bid based on the Roughrider study. The Saskatoon company also warned that developing the Roughrider deposit as a standalone company could create major financial problems for Hathor.
“Based on our extensive experience developing and operating projects in the Athabasca Basin, we believe Hathor’s (preliminary assessment) significantly underestimates the costs, timelines, and risks associated with development of the Roughrider deposit and so, by inference, significantly overstates the value of the Roughrider deposit and Hathor as a company,” said Tim Gitzel, Cameco’s president and CEO.
“We are convinced that the development of Roughrider as a standalone operation cannot be economically justified using realistic development cost and timeline assumptions. The economics work for Cameco because we have existing infrastructure in the Athabasca region including nearby milling capacity. We considered the nature and location of the Roughrider deposit and Hathor’s other exploration assets and any expansion potential in making our offer. We continue to believe our offer provides full and fair value.”
On the Hathor call, Gunning did not rule out the possibility that another company may swoop in with a better offer than Cameco’s.
“I want to ensure you that the board of directors and advisers are aggressively endeavouring to maximize shareholder value. Prior to the offer, we were and continue to be, in active dialogue with a number of other major mining companies and user groups and consumers about their potential interest in Hathor and the Roughrider project,” he said.
“While we cannot promise that an alternative offer will emerge, we are entirely confident that we can do better than this bid.”
The company has both a pilot and a commercial demonstration plant in Quebec and is building its first waste-to-biofuels plant in Edmonton. It also has plans to develop similar operations in the U.S. and Canada that will convert municipal solid waste into biofuels and chemicals.
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