The Work

December 16, 2010 4:40 PM

Eight Firms Snag Roles on $1.2 Billion Uranium Deal

Posted by Brian Baxter

ARMZ Uranium, a company owned by the Russian state and the fourth-largest producer of uranium in the world, has announced it will acquire Australian rival Mantra Resources for $1.15 billion.

The deal gives ARMZ the Tanzanian assets of Mantra, which according to The Wall Street Journal are a necessary acquisition as part of ARMZ's ongoing bid to provide low-cost uranium to its Moscow-based parent company, Rosatom, the nuclear regulatory body for the Russian state.

Three Australian firms, three Canadian firms, and two Tanzanian firms landed the outside counsel appointments on the deal. Bloomberg reports that the transaction calls for Mantra to be sold to ARMZ, which has the option of selling all the shares it acquires in the company within a year to its Canadian unit, Vancouver-based Uranium One.

"The offer crystallizes immediate value for Mantra shareholders, providing them with the certainty of cash," Mantra CEO Peter Breese told the Australian press. "We have taken advice from our financial and legal advisers and concluded that this offer is in the best interests of Mantra's shareholders."

Perth-based Mantra turned to its longtime legal advisers at Hardy Bowen for lead counsel on the deal. The Australian firm, also based in Perth, was started in July 2002 by two former partners from 700-lawyer Aussie firm Clayton Utz. Peter O'Callaghan, a corporate partner in the Vancouver office of Blake, Cassels & Graydon, is serving as Canadian counsel to Mantra, along with associate Michelle Audet.

The Financial Times reports that like Chinese companies pursuing strategic natural resources in recent energy deals, Russia is also on the hunt for fuel, and the Tanzanian properties owned by Mantra make for an ideal acquisition. Mantra's flagship asset, the Mkuju River project in Tanzania, will now fall under the ARMZ umbrella.

Blake Dawson M&A partners Mark Stanbridge and Philip Maxwell are serving as Australian counsel to ARMZ on the Mantra deal. Quentin Markin, a corporate partner and member of the global mining group at Canadian firm Stikeman Elliott in Toronto, is leading a team from the firm providing Canadian counsel to the acquirer. FB Attorneys in Dar es Salaam are handling Tanzanian legal matters for ARMZ.

John Turner, leader of the global mining group at Canadian firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin in Toronto, is advising Uranium One on its potential acquisition of Mantra from ARMZ. Assisting Turner are energy and corporate partner Gregory Ho Yuen, M&A partner S. Bruce Blain, banking and finance partner John Elias, general corporate partner Dimitri Cavvadas, and associates Bozidar Crnatovic and Sarah Lafleur. (Cavvadas and Lafleur are based in Johannesburg and performed due diligence on Mantra's Mkuju River project.)

Corporate partner Andrew Finch and energy and natural resources partner David Maloney in Sydney, both of whom are with Allens Arthur Robinson, one of Australia's largest law firms, are also advising Uranium One. Dar es Salaam-based Ishengoma Karume Masha & Magai, which has an alliance with DLA Piper, is serving as Tanzanian counsel to the ARMZ unit.

The deal is expected to close during the second quarter of 2011.

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