* Shares down nearly 20 pct to C$6.89 on TSX
* Company says will not revisit Inmet deal for now
* Lundin focused on exploration, smaller acquisitions (Adds Canada stocks, analyst and company quotes)
By Julie Gordon and Patrick Lannin
TORONTO/STOCKHOLM, May 26 (Reuters) - Shares of Lundin Mining (LUN.TO) dropped nearly 20 percent on Thursday after the Canadian-Swedish mining group said it had rejected several buyout bids and its chief executive would resign in a month.
The company said on Wednesday it had received several expressions of interest in all or part of the company but decided they were all too low. [ID:nL3E7GQ00N]
“The board has decided that we will not break up the company and we will not sell the company as a whole, based on those offers,” said Senior Vice President Paul Conibear on a conference call Thursday morning.
Lundin’s shares opened down 18.81 percent at C$6.95 on Thursday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They later slipped further to C$6.89, while its Stockholm-quoted shares LUMIsdb.ST were down 20.25 percent at 44.25 crowns.
The steep sell-off was expected by analysts, who said that further bids for the copper producer are unlikely.
“We expect shares to be under pressure as the likelihood of no transaction occurring has significantly increased,” said UBS Securities analyst Matt Murphy in a note to clients.
“We would anticipate the probability of hostile bids for Lundin thereafter being fairly low,” he added.
Lundin, long pinpointed by analysts as a likely participant in small-scale consolidation, has been at a strategic crossroads since a C$9 billion combination with Inmet IMN.TO fell through earlier this year.
What the companies characterized as a “merger of equals” collapsed after Lundin was the object of a hostile C$4.7 billion takeover bid from Equinox Minerals EQN.TO. Equinox later abandoned that deal when Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) agreed to buy the African-focused minerlast month.
Since the original Inmet deal was announced in early January, Lundin’s shares have risen as much as 26 percent to a high of C$9.31 late last month. The company said on Thursday that it has no plans to revisit a deal with Inmet at this time.
Analysts had also suggested Lundin as a potential target for Minmetals (1208.HK), the Chinese group whose hostile offer for Equinox was trumped by Barrick Gold.
Chinese miners, facing ravenous domestic demand, have pursued copper assets arduously.
Last month Canadian news reports said a consortium led by China’s Jinchuan Group and including a sovereign wealth fund was preparing an offer for Lundin. [ID:nLDE73S0T6]
Lundin also said that Chief Executive Phil Wright will step down at the end of June as part of a previously announced retirement plan.
Conibear will take charge as interim CEO from June 30 until a successor is found.
With a “merger of equals” or buyout off the table for now, Lundin said that it will refocus on developing its existing assets and expanding its base metal business.
“We’ve been in transaction mode for a long time now,” said Conibear. “It is time for us to put our heads down and focus on business opportunities.”
He said the company would now focus on internal growth, in particular an exploration program at the Neves-Corvo mine in Portugal.
The company also has projects in Sweden, Ireland and Spain, and owns a 24.75 percent stake in the Tenke Fungurume copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is operated by Freeport McMoran (FCX.N).
With an unused debt facility, significant cash on hand and the potential to turn to the equity market for more funding, the company said it is looking at acquisitions even as it focuses on existing operations.
Conibear said he is looking for copper or high-quality zinc projects in Africa, Europe and the Americas.
He would not give a cash value, but said that the company is considering early stage projects, as it looks to keep a strong balance sheet for future development at Tenke.
“We wouldn’t see burdening the company with any big huge cash outlay right now,” Conibear said.
He also said the company would consider selling non-core assets like Aguablanca in Spain but was otherwise not interested in selling individual projects.
“This is not a garage sale,” Conibear said. “We are not going to breaking up the company into little bits and pieces.”
Additional reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques in London; Editing by Frank McGurty