Sirius Minerals wins £405m rescue deal

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Reuters

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The plans for the under-construction mine include a minehead at Dove’s Nest Farm, Sneaton, in North Yorkshire

A rescue deal has been agreed for Yorkshire-based Sirius Minerals, whose fertiliser mine is set to create more than 1,000 jobs.

Shareholders backed a £405m bid from Anglo American for the cash-strapped company, which said it faced falling into administration without the deal.

Sirius said the outcome had secured jobs and future benefit for the local community and wider region.

The project will be UK’s first major deep mine in 40 years.

Sirius chairman Russell Scrimshaw said: “The positive outcome from today’s meeting secures a return for shareholders, and provides greater certainty in terms of safeguarding the project, protecting the jobs of our employees, and allowing the community, region and the UK to continue to benefit from the project.”

Shareholders who attended the meeting at the Honourable Artillery Company in the City of London were told if they did not support the deal, the company would collapse.

They were being asked to vote in favour of Anglo’s 5.5p per share offer, despite some paying as much as 25p a share when the company was growing. Shareholders, a large proportion of whom are small individual investors rather than big institutions, stood to lose out heavily.

One frustrated shareholder who attended the vote said he felt like “we’re having a gun put to our head”.

‘Insult’

Mr Scrimshaw admitted it was a difficult time for all concerned, adding he was “disappointed at the abusive language” that he had read online before the meeting.

Security guards were brought in to monitor the meeting because there had been threats to directors.

Several shareholders had questioned why the meeting was being held in London, and not around Yorkshire where most of the company’s thousands of retail investors are.

During the meeting, the board, which had urged shareholders to back the bid, was branded “stubborn and righteous” by one shareholder, while another called the offer an “insult”.

Some 85,000 small shareholders are thought to have invested in the project, alongside several large institutional investors.