UK court approves Barrick Gold's takeover of Acacia

(Reuters) - Canadian miner Barrick Gold ABX.TO has won approval from a British court for its $1.2 billion takeover of Acacia Mining ACAA.L, the African gold miner said on Friday, removing the last hurdle to the conclusion of the deal.

The approval comes after London-listed Acacia agreed in July to a sweetened offer from its parent Barrick, a deal that raised expectations that Acacia’s long-running tax dispute with the Tanzanian government would finally come to an end.

Acacia has been battling regulatory problems in Tanzania, with the government slapping the company with a $190 billion tax bill - later reduced to $300 million in a 2017 agreement. Barrick has taken the lead in the negotiations.

But the government is yet to lift a ban on the export of gold concentrates that has crippled Acacia’s revenue and two Acacia employees and a former employee are still in jail in Tanzania.

The original takeover bid from Barrick, which already owned 63.9% of Acacia, had drawn accusations from minority shareholders that Barrick was taking advantage of the company’s woes in Tanzania to buy it on the cheap.

But an improved bid in July was received positively by the shareholders, and Tanzania-focused Acacia shares have gained over one-fourth in value since.

Barrick offered 0.168 of its shares for one Acacia share, up from the initial offer of 0.153. The sweetened offer valued Acacia at about 232 pence per share, or 951 million pounds ($1.2 billion).

The deal ends Acacia’s near-decade presence on the London Stock Exchange. Acacia shares, which have lost more than half of their value since a 2010 market debut, will be delisted with effect from Sept. 18, Acacia said.

(Graphic: Acacia vs FTSE 250 , )

Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru and Zandi Shabalala in London; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Emelia Sithole-Matarise