Wednesday 22 May 2019 9:44 am

Barrick Gold mulls $787m bid for Acacia Mining as it makes 'significant progress' in spat with Tanzania

Acacia Mining today hit out at its largest shareholder Barrick Gold for keeping it frozen out of negotiations with the Tanzanian government, after the Canadian giant yesterday revealed it was mulling a bid to take Acacia private.

Barrick said last night it has presented a proposal to Acaica’s board to take the London-listed miner off the stock exchange.

Read more: Acacia Mining disappoints as 'double-whammy' hits production

The deal would value Acacia at $787m (£621m), and Barrick, which already owns 64 per cent of Acacia, will give remaining shareholders $285m in Barrick shares.

The price is at a discount to Acacia’s £654m closing market valuation yesterday, and far below where the shares were before troubles started in Tanzania.

In 2017 the government of newly elected Tanzanian President John Magufuli hit Acacia with a $190bn tax bill.

The government claimed the company, which denies the charges, had for several years failed to report the level of gold in the materials it was shipping abroad.

The $190bn bill, around four times the annual GDP of Tanzania, was levelled against Acacia as back taxes on these exports.

Acacia has been under an export ban on gold concentrate as negotiations have dragged on, and several staff have been arrested and held under indefinite detention laws.

The company is understood to have been cut out of talks with the Magufuli administration since Barrick’s chairman John Thornton flew to the country to speak directly to the government. The parties reached a framework agreement last year, but have yet to make any further progress.

“Acacia notes that it continues to be excluded from the discussions between Barrick and the government of Tanzania,” the company said in a notice to the markets late last night.

According to the notice, Barrick has updated Acacia that it has made “significant progress towards finalising a proposed resolution”.

Read more: Shareholder reaches deal with Tanzania over Acacia Mining spat

In an announcement “made without the consent or approval of Barrick,” the company also revealed it had been shown a letter from the government saying it would not sign any agreement if Acacia was a counterparty to the deal.

Shares in Acacia dropped 4.6 per cent to 152.1p, giving it a market value of around £624m, just above Barrick’s proposed bidding price.