Sunday, May 17, 2015

Andrew Forrest Makes Surprise Investment in Atlas Iron (AGO)

Andrew Forrest Makes Surprise Investment in Atlas Iron (AGO)

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has emerged as a new investor in rival Atlas Iron, despite continuing to serve as the chairman and major shareholder in Fortescue Metals Group.

Speaking after Atlas announced a strategy to restart mining through lower contracting fees and an equity raising of up to $180 million, the miner's chairman David Flanagan revealed that Mr Forrest had promised to participate in the raising.

"I am just so pleased to be able to announce that Andrew Forrest was the first person to put his hand up and say he was going to invest personally in that raising," he said.

"It is through one of his holding companies, whichever it will be ... we are not going to be sort of a subsidiary of Andrew Forrest Holdings, but it is meaningful in the extent of what we are doing going forward and that is all I can say.

"Thanks again to Andrew for backing Atlas."

Mr Forrest does not currently own shares in Atlas according to Bloomberg records, and the move continues a recent string of investments made by Mr Forrest in small miners.

Mr Forrest last week invested in small Victorian gold producer A1 Consolidated via his private company Minderoo Resources, and also has exposure to uranium play Vimy Resources and nickel junior Poseidon.

Mr Forrest declared earlier this year that he was setting up a new company designed to buy assets during the commodity price downturn, and some believe that company is Minderoo Resources.

Upon launching that new company in March, Mr Forrest vowed it would not compete with Fortescue's current or future strategies.

"A process has been put in place to ensure that if any possibility of doubt regarding conflicting interest arises, the matter will be resolved independently and quickly. I have written to the FMG board asking them to approve this process, and they have returned with their full support for our venture and its governance procedures," said Mr Forrest in March. 

When asked about Mr Forrest's investment in Atlas on Sunday, Fortescue chief financial officer Steve Pearce said he had "nothing to add".

"It is not a Fortescue investment," he said.

Mr Flanagan has announced his support for a federal government inquiry into iron ore, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Friday after listening to the thoughts of Mr Forrest.

BC Iron chairman Tony Kiernan and Cliffs Natural Resources chief executive Lourenco Goncalves also threw their support behind the inquiry on Sunday, along with Queensland University associate professor of regulator economics, Flavio Menezes.

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