Analysts Mixed on Inmet's Bid for Petaquilla Copper

 |  Includes: IEMMF, PTQLF, TCK
by: FP Trading Desk

There is no consensus among the analysts on Inmet Mining Corp.'s (OTC:IEMMF) C$345-million hostile bid to take out its junior partner Petaquilla Copper Ltd. (OTC:PTQLF).

On the positive side, Raymond James analyst Tom Meyer wrote that by moving its stake in the Petaquilla copper project from 48% to 74%, Inmet would gain "important strategic flexibility" and lower the risk profile on the project.

If Petaquilla Copper was bought out, Inmet and Teck Cominco Ltd. (NYSE:TCK) would be the sole remaining partners and the legal action between Petaquilla Copper and Teck would presumably end.

In a note, Mr. Meyer wrote:

With two shareholders in the project as opposed to three, we believe it is safe to say that rational decision-making may likely become less of a bottleneck and the project can move forward at a faster rate.

He added that by going to a 74% interest, Inmet could be in a position to potentially buy Teck Cominco's stake as well.

Analyst Greg Barnes from TD Newcrest presents the negative view. He wrote that the economics of the Petaquilla project are "marginal" and figures that it would need a long-term copper price above $2.25 a pound for it to work. He also noted a "lack of clarity" on how Inmet could optimize value from the project.

He wrote:

Until Inmet is able to verify improved project parameters, we feel that the company is overpaying for a project that has less than compelling economics.

Over at UBS Securities, analyst Onno Rutten's opinion is a little more mixed. He thinks that Inmet's C$2.00-a-share offer for Petaquilla Copper is "a steep premium," but would accelerate the project's development if it is successful. That could unlock value for Inmet.

However, Mr. Rutten shares Mr. Barnes' concerns about the risks of the project; he pointed out that Inmet, a C$3-billion company, is trying to build a project that costs close to C$4-billion. He also said that Petaquilla needs strong copper prices to be economic. But he wrote that the financing risk appears to be "muted."

He wrote:

We view the Petaquilla project as a company 'making or breaking' transaction.