Atlas Iron Shareholders Revolt

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

It hasn’t taken all that much time for a ginger group of shareholders in Atlas Iron to emerge on social media whingeing about the ‘cheapness’ of the agreed deal with Mineral Resources (MinRes).

The bid was revealed earlier this week and values Atlas at $280 million via an all share offer from Mineral Resources.

The offer values Atlas shares at around 2.9 to 3 cents a share (and will rise and fall with the MinRes share price), against the 1.9 cents the shares were trading at last week before trading was halted to allow the bid to be discussed and lodged.

Atlas shares fell more than 3% to 2.7 cents as MinRes shares fell 0.4% to $16.36.

Some of the company’s small shareholders have taken to online investor forums to voice their opposition and formed an action group to fight the deal.

The West Australian reported that one Atlas retail shareholder upset at the terms of the offer is Shane Taylor, who has formed AGO United with other small shareholders to fight the tie-up.

He has described the 3 cents a share offer as a “kick in the face” given the benefits MinRes would derive from the deal in the form of one billion tonnes of resources, 13 million tonnes a year of in port capacity at Port hedland and around half a billion of tax losses.

He told the West Australian he thinks Atlas shares are worth between 9 and 11 cents each, but thinks shareholders would consider an offer valued at five to six cents.

But so far as Chris Ellison, Mineral Resources Atlas shareholders had to be realistic.

Mr Ellison said Atlas Iron had no money to expand its assets, whereas Mineral Resources did and it couldn’t cut costs to match the discounted prices for its low grade iron ore.

He warned Atlas shareholders this week that a vote against his takeover offer would be fruitless as Atlas is on a countdown to extinction and a rival bid is unlikely.

Speaking on an analyst and media conference call, Mr Ellison described Atlas as being in “palliative care” because of the big discounts it had been forced to accept on its low-grade iron ore combined with high operating costs.

“They’ve been trading at a loss for the past three months and I don’t see iron ore doing anything differently in the next six to 12 months,” he said.

“If they continually lose money, they have to draw a line in the sand.”

Mr Ellison said Atlas had been managed well but did not have the capital or balance sheet strength to expand.

Mr Ellison said other bigger iron ore players considered Atlas’ deposits as stranded and uneconomic, but it made sense for MinRes because of its proposed Bulk Ore Shuttle System, which could link the deposits to Port Hedland and cut costs.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

View more articles by Glenn Dyer →