Published on Friday August 02 2013 (AEST)
Paladin Energy has scrapped the sale of a stake in its flagship African uranium mine after it failed to attract a high enough bid. The Australian-listed company instead will use a shareholder-diluting $88 million capital raising to reduce about $US670 million ($A753.95 million) of debt. Paladin had been negotiating with two nuclear power companies to sell 15-20 per cent in its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia.
In late June, managing director John Borshoff maintained a sale would go ahead. But the global uranium market is still depressed more than two years since Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster and the spot price is at seven-and-a-half-year lows of about $US35 a pound.
Paladin blamed that anaemic price for its failure to get what it believes is the strategic value of the asset and harmed shareholder value.
Based on investment bank UBS's recent $US1.1 billion valuation of Langer Heinrich, a successful sale would have gained $US165 million-$US220 million. The mine produced 5.3 million pounds, out of Paladin's 8.26 million pounds, of uranium production in the year to June 30.
"Although, there remains interest in the asset, Paladin believes that the current weakness in the spot uranium price should not overly influence the valuation of a flagship asset such as Langer Heinrich," it said in a statement on Friday.
It said it would wait until prices lifted before going to the market to sell again. A price of at least $US70 a pound was needed, it said. In other bad news for Paladin, the company said it expected to have to write down the value of assets including its other producing mine, Kayelekera in Malawi, by $US180 million.
The capital raising involves the equivalent of 15 per cent of its stock being issued to private institutions.
The company's shares went into a trading halt on Thursday at $1.00