* Centamin seeks to overturn ruling on Sukari mine lease
* Egyptian court sets first appeal hearing for June 19
* Company says commissioner's office report "not positive"
* Shares fall as much as 21 pct, biggest FTSE-350 loser
(Adds chairman, analyst comment, background; updates share
By Richa Naidu
May 10 Shares of Egypt-focused gold miner
Centamin Plc fell as much as 21 percent after the
company said an advisory body had made unfavourable
recommendations to the court that will decide the fate of its
only operating mine.
Centamin is appealing to the Supreme Administrative Court of
Egypt to overturn a decision by another court to revoke its
lease for the Sukari gold mine in Egypt's Eastern Desert.
The mine, which produced 262,958 ounces of gold last year,
is continuing to operate normally pending the final outcome of
the court process, Centamin said in a statement.
Centamin, which has a market capitalization of about $780
million, said the first appeal hearing would be on June 19. It
added that the Egyptian State Commissioner's Office had produced
a report containing non-binding recommendations for the court.
These recommendations were "not positive", Centamin said.
The company's stock was the biggest percentage loser on the
FTSE-350 index on Friday morning.
Speaking to Reuters by telephone, Centamin Chairman Josef
El-Raghy said: "We see (the recommendations) as having no
bearing on how we'll progress our appeal process."
He declined to reveal details of the recommendations in the
report. The State Commissioner's Office was not available for
comment on Friday, a holiday in Egypt.
"The office's recommendations are advisory only and
non-binding, but the apparent negative undertone has potential
to make the appeal more challenging," said Numis Securities
analyst Cailey Barker.
Egypt has experienced more than two years of political and
economic turmoil since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak,
hammering foreign investment and prompting budget and currency
Centamin has been hounded by a string of bureaucratic
difficulties in Egypt in recent months. Customs officials have
held up exports and the country's petroleum ministry has
disrupted fuel supplies to the mine.
The company is appealing a decision by the Egyptian
Administrative Court last October that declared its right to
operate the Sukari mine invalid. The ruling was suspended in
March pending the outcome of the appeal.
"The whole Egyptian situation with Centamin has been a
rollercoaster ride," said Carole Ferguson, senior research
analyst at SP Angel. "The fact that they can't have clarity at
this stage ... will just make investors very nervous."
Centamin, also listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange
, said in March that it expected the Sukari mine to
produce 320,000 ounces of gold in 2013, 22 percent more than
last year. The mine is located 700 km (440 miles) from Cairo.
Centamin also holds exploration licences in Ethiopia.
The company's shares were down 14.5 percent at 39.00 pence
at 1040 GMT.
(Additional reporting by Brenton Cordeiro in Bangalore; Editing
by Don Sebastian and Robin Paxton)