Antwort auf Beitrag Nr.:
32.476.904 von Lemmus am 19.11.07
10:12:28New boss to drive Zinifex hard
Andrew Trounson | November 23, 2007
INSPIRED by the decisiveness of Russia's mineral oligarchs, new
Zinifex chief executive Andrew Michelmore is promising an
aggressive growth strategy for the lead and zinc miner.
The market sees Zinifex as a bulging cash box vulnerable to a
takeover, but the former WMC boss is not about to wait around for a
"You can never say you aren't a takeover target, but I don't think
you can sit there and worry that you are a target and get
defensive. You have to get on with life," Mr Michelmore said.
News of Mr Michelmore's appointment last week coincided with
speculation that fast-growing Oxiana was set to launch a bid.
Mr Michelmore's appointment is likely to make any tie-up between
the two Melbourne-based miners more complicated, as an attempt to
do a friendly deal earlier in the year fell through.
The retirement of Zinifex boss Greig Gailey in June appeared to
open the way for Oxiana boss Owen Hegarty to become chief executive
of a merged group, but the appointment of the ambitious Mr
Michelmore will complicate any friendly deal.
"The social challenges would be quite severe now to say the least,"
one investment banking source said.
After having WMC bought out from underneath him by BHP in 2005, Mr
Michelmore joined up with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska who owns
Rusal, the aluminium giant rivalling Rio Tinto-Alcan as the world's
biggest producer. The lesson he learned in Russia was: don't wait
"During my time in Russia, I certainly saw a lot and learned a lot
about people growing companies in the minerals industry and how
they went about doing it and the way they evaluated opportunities,"
Mr Michelmore said. "We have seen that too many Western companies
have been too slow and far too conservative."
Mr Michelmore, who will not officially take the reins until
February, is due to be introduced to employees at Zinifex's head
office today. He is likely to attend the company's annual general
meeting on Monday, but finance chief and acting chief executive
Tony Barnes will be the one fielding the media on the day.
In the near term, Mr Michelmore is expected to talk up the
prospects of the company's Dugald River zinc mine development in
Queensland and newly acquired, longer-term projects in far north
Canada. Zinifex's strong cash position means it is well positioned
to try to accelerate developments at both opportunities.
"People aren't putting enough value on the assets that are in the
company and understanding the options that are there to grow
value," he said.
"That is part of my job, to demonstrate that there is significant
option value in the company."
Acquisitions are also on the radar.
Part of the problem is a weakening zinc price as the market factors
in rising production. Earlier this month, Citigroup cut its zinc
price forecast for next year by 28 per cent to $US1.25 a pound from
$US1.75 a pound, and the shares have been under pressure.
The key challenge for Mr Michelmore, however, will be to make up
for lost time and start delivering on the company's growth vision,
which includes diversifying into other base metals such as
Earlier this year, Zinifex is believed to have bought a 4.9 per
cent stake in Canadian copper miner Aur Resources, only to be
beaten to the punch by the larger Teck Cominco, which bid $4.5
billion to successfully take over Aur.
"There is a lot we can do with it to add shareholder value and if
it is appropriate to make acquisitions we'll make acquisitions," he
Zinifex is the reincarnation of collapsed predecessor Pasminco.
Itsrefloat has been a huge success, driven by strong zinc prices
andkeen focus on operational performance.
It is still struggling to shake off the effects of the long years
it spent in administration, which left it without an exploration
and business development arm.
Zinifex's key producing mine, Century in Queensland, is likely to
be exhausted by 2015. Drilling has so far failed to find resources
to extend its life.
The drilling effort around Century is continuing, but the company
is moving fast to start developing new projects. Next year it is
expected to give the go-ahead to Dugald River, which will be one of
the largest new zinc mine developments in the world when it comes
into production in 2011.
The complex nature of the ore, which is contaminated with
manganese, means smelters will probably demand a discount on
Dugald's concentrate sales.
Former boss Mr Gailey has opened up a new growth front in Canada
through the $384 million acquisition of Wolfden Resources, which
has development projects in the far north. Those projects will be
challenging and expensive to build.
Mr Michelmore's key advantage is that he will be able to call on
the $1.7 billion in proceeds that Zinifex has received from
spinning off its smelting and refining assets as Brussels-based
Citigroup has estimated that Zinifex will have about $2.6 billion
in cash on its balance sheet by the end of the year.
It is this war chest that provides the best value opportunity for
Zinifex, and Mr Michelmore has been employed to spend it.
Mr Michelmore is being paid a base salary of $1.9 million a year,
which could double if all short-term targets are met. He could also
earn up to $3 million worth of shares if he meets long-term targets
for shareholder returns.