By Tim Kiladze
The parallels are eerily similar. A Canadian company launches a hostile bid for a rival firm that operates within its own borders, but is brushed off. Then a global giant swoops in, sweetens the pot, and gets backed by the target’s board. Frustrated, the Canadian bidder has to increase its price.
The story played out a year ago, and it’s taking place yet again today. The only differences are the names, and the commodity up for grabs. In 2010 it was Nunavut Iron Ore fighting ArcelorMittal (OTCPK:AMSIY); this year it's Cameco (CCJ) fighting Rio Tinto (RIO). Last year iron ore was the hot commodity; this year it’s uranium.
At this point, no one knows how it will end. On Monday, Cameco increased its hostile bid for Hathor Exploration (OTC:HTHXF) to $4.50 per share in cash, 8.4% higher than Rio’s bid worth $4.15 per share made last month. But just like Nunavut last year, Cameco has to fight against a behemoth that has the backing of the target’s board.
However, as the Globe’s Brenda Bouw pointed out Monday morning, Cameco has $1.2-billion in cash on its balance sheet, so there is room for the company to keep bidding. That could lead to a duel, akin to what played out in 2010.
Except last year’s ended in a very unique manner: The two sides came together, after Nunavut reached out to Arcelor, and they ultimately put together a joint offer that was accepted. Today, Arcelor owns 70% of Baffinland, and Nunavut owns the remaining 30%, and they are working on developing the Mary River project together. How Canadian.