Sundance crunched as deal disintegrates

Sundance Resources shares fell more than 48 per cent after termination of a takeover deal with Chinese group Hanlong prompted a market rout on Tuesday.

Sundance Resources shares fell more than 48 per cent after termination of a takeover deal with Chinese group Hanlong prompted a market rout on Tuesday.

Despite the termination being widely expected and Sundance shares already losing half their value between December and March, Tuesday's 10¢ fall to 11¢ confirmed that not all investors had given up hope of a deal being done.

Launched in July 2011, the $1.37 billion takeover was to deliver Sundance's African iron ore project into Hanlong's hands, but the controversial Chinese group failed to prove its ability to fund the project on several occasions, and seemed to have trouble persuading Chinese government agencies of the merits of the deal.

At 11¢ the stock is plumbing depths not seen since May 2009, and is well below the 57¢ offer price Hanlong attached to Sundance shares in October 2011.

Sundance chairman George Jones sought to calm investors by insisting that other suitors were already positioning themselves to make an offer.

But the iron ore sector has become a much more bearish place over the 21 months that Sundance spent negotiating with Hanlong, and most experts, such as Pengana Capital's Tim Schroeders, believe Sundance will struggle to find a suitor willing to pay as much as Hanlong was.

"Will there be interested buyers? Absolutely, there always are. At the end of the day they are dealing with good-quality higher-grade iron ore," he said. "But to resurrect a price similar to the Hanlong bid is probably going to be fairly difficult, I would imagine.

"The game has changed, there is not a mad scramble and there's no shortage of undeveloped iron ore deposits and it's a question now of who is prepared to take the risk in terms of not only the mine itself but the infrastructure, the funding, the fiscal regime and so on."

Mr Schroeders said there were far more developed iron ore assets in developed nations on the market at the moment - such as Rio Tinto's Canadian iron ore assets - which would be easier to manage than Sundance's greenfield Mbalam project.

The Sundance bid failure comes after Hanlong failed to take over fellow ASX junior Bannerman Resources in 2011, and many shareholders expressed frustration on Tuesday that Sundance executives had not killed off the Hanlong process much sooner, as Bannerman executives did.

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