Hong Kong private equity firm Quantum Pacific Capital says it is best placed to resolve a dispute over the ownership of a troubled $5 billion copper and gold project in Java and is negotiating to grab back as much as 80 per cent of the project on behalf of former owner Intrepid Mines.
Quantum, which has built up a 5.4 per cent stake in Intrepid and is seeking to tip out five of its seven directors next month, has defended its strategy of trying to grab board control even though it argues Intrepid's contracts with its former Indonesian joint-venture partners were invalid and that the ASX-listed explorer had no legal right to the project in the first place.
Quantum managing partner Greg Mazur said on Monday the private equity group has had continuing discussions with the project's new owner, Indonesian billionaire Edwin Soeryadjaya, since last year and that the Indonesians were open to a "negotiated solution" to the legal mess.
"Unfortunately, the current board [of Intrepid] has pursued a strategy that has not gone over well with the local title-holders and that strategy has been a very public, hostile, legal-based strategy to try to get some assets back," he said.
Intrepid shares collapsed last year, wiping hundreds of millions of dollars from the value of the group, when its partner in the Tujuh Bukit project in East Java transferred the asset into a new company controlled by Mr Soeryadjaya.
Quantum claims that over the last five years Intrepid directors have presided over the loss of $1 billion in shareholder value and the misallocation of $100 million in shareholder funds.
Intrepid believes the transfer was illegal and is seeking redress in the Indonesian courts.
Quantum has called for an extraordinary general meeting to dump a majority of the board.
Mr Mazur said Intrepid never secured legal title to the project but the stake Quantum would seek to claw back on behalf of Intrepid shareholders would be "north of zero and south of 80 per cent".
Defending its position, Intrepid claims that Quantum has little to no experience managing mining projects in Indonesia and are short-term, opportunistic investors.
The EGM will be on June 20.