UPDATE 2-First Quantum may extend bid for Inmet by a few days

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:02pm EST

* First Quantum says some regulatory hurdles remain

* Inmet reiterates view, urges shareholders to reject bid

* First Quantum shares up 1.7 percent; Inmet edges lower

By Euan Rocha and Julie Gordon

TORONTO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - First Quantum Minerals Ltd may extend its hostile C$5.1 billion ($4.97 billion) bid for rival base metal miner Inmet Mining Corp by a few days, President Clive Newall said on Tuesday.

"There are a number of regulatory hurdles to go over, and we hope they'll all be done by tomorrow, but we may need to extend slightly," Newall said while addressing investors at the BMO Metals & Mining conference in Hollywood, Florida.

The cash-and-stock bid is set to expire on Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT). It was worth C$5.1 billion, or C$72 a share, when it was announced in mid-December, topping First Quantum's two prior offers.

Last month, Inmet asked its shareholders to reject First Quantum's bid, calling it inadequate. The company said it was in talks with third parties for alternative deals.

Inmet said on Tuesday that the implied value of the bid had fallen to C$66.35 per share as of Monday's close.

The bid, however, already has the support of Inmet's largest shareholder, Leucadia National Corp, which according to the latest Thomson Reuters data has a stake of roughly 16 percent.

"This vision of creating the new global company is certainly shared by their largest shareholder," Newall said. "And what we're seeking here, and have been for the last few weeks, is to try and persuade all Inmet shareholders to share this vision."

If First Quantum succeeds with its bid, the company would gain control of the Cobre Panama project. The massive project in the Central American Republic of Panama has one of the world's largest undeveloped copper deposits, which would ease the company's dependence on sites in Africa and particularly Zambia.

In response to a question, Newall said First Quantum had engaged with the Inmet board throughout the process, but he declined to provide any details on where things stand.

INMET REITERATES REJECTION

Following the First Quantum presentation, Inmet issued a statement urging shareholders to reject the offer, suggesting that the two sides were no closer to an agreement.

Inmet said it had granted First Quantum a site tour at Cobre Panama and access to some of its key personnel as part of a due diligence process.

"Despite its communication to Inmet shareholders stressing the link between due diligence and its ability to increase the offer, First Quantum has not increased its offer to date," Inmet said in its statement.

Inmet said it was continuing its efforts to sell a minority stake in Cobre Panama, a transaction that would value the project at much more than the First Quantum offer does. The company said such a move would also help mitigate the capital risk of Cobre Panama, which is expected to cost roughly $6.2 billion.

Inmet shares were down 0.1 percent at C$65.44 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, while First Quantum rose 1.7 percent to C$18.73.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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