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UPDATE 3-Billionaire Friedland back in fray with Africa project IPO
* Files preliminary prospectus for offering in Canada
* Plans to raise money to develop projects in Africa
* Will aim to raise at least $250 mln-$300 mln - source
* Could list next month - sources
By Clara Ferreira-Marques
LONDON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Robert Friedland, one of the mining industry's most successful and colorful entrepreneurs, has begun the long-awaited process of selling shares in his new venture, Ivanplats, hoping to raise cash to develop copper, zinc and platinum deposits in Africa.
Chicago-born billionaire Friedland is known in the industry for his showmanship, flamboyance and occasionally abrasive manner, almost as much as for his formidable talent in spotting the potential of some of the industry's biggest deposits, from the Voisey's Bay nickel deposit in Canada to Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposit, one of the world's largest.
In a prospectus filed to regulators this week, paving the way for a Toronto listing, Ivanplats did not give details on the exact timing or size of the share sale, which was estimated last year by sources familiar with the deal at up to $1 billion.
Two sources familiar with the current sale, however, said on Wednesday that due to a bond issue Ivanplats did in March and the sale of a stake in one of its projects last year, it is likely the company is now seeking to raise a more modest amount in the $250 million to $300 million range.
"If the market is receptive and appreciative, they could do more," one source said, adding the company could then follow long-held plans and move on to a dual listing in London, giving it another opportunity to top up its investment funds.
"Meetings with potential investors will be starting this week," said the other source familiar with the situation.
Friedland currently owns roughly 32 percent of Ivanplats. He and other current shareholders in the company are subject to lock-up agreements that will allow them to gradually begin to sell some of their interest in the company six months after its initial public offering has closed.
Ivanplats' main assets include Kamoa, a high-grade copper deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Kipushi, a zinc and copper mine also in Congo; and the giant Platreef platinum, gold, nickel and copper project in South Africa, which Friedland has said could transform the beleaguered platinum industry.
Platreef, in the northern limb of the Bushveld complex which accounts for about 70 percent of the world's platinum output, is 10 percent-owned by a consortium led by Japan's Itochu Corp . Itochu bought an 8 percent stake last year in a deal implying a value for Platreef of around $3.5 billion.
Having stepped down earlier this year from the helm of Ivanhoe Mines, the company behind Oyu Tolgoi (which is now known as Turquoise Hill and is controlled by Rio Tinto), Friedland had been expected to turn his attention to his African project.
But uncertain markets had left the timing less than clear for the former Sanskrit student's next target.
"Robert has clearly made a name for himself. He doesn't need to wait for the market to turn in a cohesive way," another source familiar with the listing said. "These are world-class assets."
A Canadian preliminary filing allows a company to begin the marketing process immediately, even as regulators examine the company's prospectus. A sale of the shares then usually follows, meaning shares in Ivanplats could be sold as early as October in one of Canada's most significant 2012 debuts, despite turbulent commodity and equity markets.
Global IPO proceeds slid 46 percent in the first six months of 2012 as, faced with unpredictable markets buffeted by euro zone debt woes and concerns about global economic growth, many companies put their listing plans on hold.
Ivanplats' copper assets are likely to attract the attention of mining investors. Kamoa has indicated resources that would place it among the highest-grade copper deposits in the industry -- and Friedland's team of geologists and managers have cut their teeth on challenging projects such as Oyu Tolgoi.
Risks enumerated by Ivanplats itself, though, include Congo's troubled profile and the impact of woes in South Africa's platinum sector, which has been hit by labor unrest including deadly protests last month.
Ivanplats' filings show most of the IPO proceeds would be used for investment in Kamoa and Kipushi, but also to pay money owed to Congo veteran Dan Gertler, a highly influential but also controversial figure, from whom Friedland purchased Kipushi.
Gertler, a businessman linked to other miners operating in Congo including Glencore and ENRC, has received $45 million for his majority stake in Kipushi and is owed at least another $100 million.
Ivanplats, a Vancouver-based company set up in 1993, reported a net loss of almost $126 million last year.
Ivanplats' filing showed that while Friedland did not take home a salary for his role as company chairman, he received more than $6 million in options and bonuses last year.
Bookrunners for the sale are BMO Nesbitt Burns, Macquarie Capital Markets, Morgan Stanley Canada and RBC Dominion Securities. The banks could receive a fee of as much as 5.5 percent of the funds raised from the offering, according to the prospectus.
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