* Kalahari chairman says confident deal will go through
* Kalahari shares trading at 230p, below 290p CGNPC offer
* Deadline for CGNPC bid is 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on May 3 * CGNPC declines to comment
(Adds details, quotes, background)
By Clara Ferreira-Marques
LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - Uranium miner Kalahari Minerals KAH.L is confident it will seal a deal with China Guangdong Nuclear Power (CGNPC) despite worries over the 756 million pound ($1.26 billion) takeover price that have held back its shares.
“I am confident in CGNPC. They need uranium, and they want to do the deal,” Executive Chairman Mark Hohnen told Reuters.
“I am confident the deal will go through.”
The state-owned Chinese firm made its move on Kalahari last month — days before the Japanese earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster — lured by access to one of the world’s biggest uranium deposits at a time when major powers are scrambling for alternative sources of power.
Kalahari owns a 43 percent stake in Extract Resources EXT.AX, which owns the Husab uranium project in Namibia, potentially the second largest uranium mine in the world.
Kalahari’s shares, however, have been badly hit by uncertainty following Fukushima’s troubles, and many investors are betting the price could be cut or the deal scrapped.
The original proposal was priced at 290p a share, representing a more than 25 percent premium to the current market value. Kalahari shares are trading around 230p.
Hohnen, speaking by telephone, said the two sides had held “commercial discussions” but declined to comment on whether CGNPC had proposed a price cut in the light of Fukushima.
CGNPC declined to comment.
The Japanese disaster forced a cut in a similar deal last month, when Canadian miner Uranium One UUU.TO cut its offer for Australian uranium prospector Mantra Resources by 12 percent, after a material adverse change clause was triggered.
“I would be amazed if they have not discussed price and, specifically, if the Chinese have not asked to cut the price they initially offered,” said one industry source.
The current agreement between CGNPC and Kalahari, however, does not include a material adverse change clause after both sides agreed to remove it, sources close to the matter said.
Under UK rules, given the initial release was a “possible” and not a “firm” offer, a change to price offered at this stage would force both sides to return to the negotiating table.
“If there were to be a request for a change in price at this stage, all bets are off,” the source said.
By May 3, under an agreed plan, CGNPC has to either formalise the offer for Kalahari, agree with Kalahari to extend the bid or scrap negotiations over the deal.
“One of the things they were probably not anticipating was a royal wedding on the Friday leading to a public holiday and another one on Monday. It means access to people they might need to have access to in the UK might cause problems,” said one source familiar with the matter.
He added: “Nothing has come our way to tell us the Chinese have lost interest.”
CGNPC is still awaiting clarification from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on whether it will be exempt from takeover rules which would normally force it to launch a full bid for Extract if it buys Kalahari.
The commission is expected to rule by Monday.
Both Extract and Kalahari shares were hit on Thursday over worries about plans by the Namibian government to assign almost all mining and exploration rights to a state-owned company. [ID:nLDE73Q27Z]
Hohnen brushed off the concerns, saying they stemmed from a misquotation, and that the Namibian government would only ever target new projects, doing so at commercial prices.
“This isn’t on existing arrangements,” he said.
“I am very optimistic. I believe Namibia has one of the soundest democratic systems.”
Rio Tinto (RIO.L) has an 11.5 percent stake in Kalahari, with Japan’s Itochu Corp (8001.T) owning 13.76 percent. Rio also owns a 14.2 percent stake in Extract. (Additional reporting by Michael Smith in Sydney and Wan Xu in Beijing; Editing by Will Waterman and Jon Loades-Carter) ($1=.6003 Pound)