ENRC set to spin off African business - report

LONDON Sun May 6, 2012 6:34am EDT

LONDON May 6 (Reuters) - Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation PLC, one of the largest London-listed mining groups, is working on a plan to split in two by spinning off its controversial African mining arm, the Sunday Times reported.

ENRC, which has been at the centre of high-profile corporate governance rows in the past two years, plans to put the division into a new London-listed company, and hand the shares to its current investors, the newspaper said, citing sources close to the situation.

Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley are working on the spin-off, which has been given the tentative title ENRC International, according to the Sunday Times.

The demerger would be the largest corporate split in years.

With corporate balance sheets bursting with cash - Britain's top 100 companies have more than 130 billion pounds at their disposal - executives are wary of opportunistic bids.

Companies hope that a split into smaller businesses will create more value for shareholders, and protect them against predators.

ENRC has tried to draw a line under a corporate governance storm that hit last year, when the controversial 2010 purchase of an expropriated Congo copper operation was followed by a boardroom spat that pitted the founding shareholders against some directors. (ID:nL6E7IS1GU)

ENRC shares closed at 520 pence last week, giving it a market value of 6.7 billion pounds.

ENRC officials could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters.