Gold refiners Valcambi and Asahi make separate bids for bankrupt U.S. rival: sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Two of the world’s largest precious metals refiners, Valcambi and Asahi, are separately bidding for the assets of their bankrupt Miami-based rival Republic Metals Corporation (RMC), two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO - A gold Combibar is seen at a plant of gold refiner and bar manufacturer Valcambi SA in the southern Swiss town of Balerna December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer

The two companies will go head to head in an auction in a New York bankruptcy court on Thursday, the sources said.

Court documents confirmed that the auction was scheduled for Thursday. Valcambi and Asahi did not comment. RMC and its lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

RMC is one North America’s largest precious metals refineries and filed for bankruptcy in November.

Buying its assets would enable Valcambi, which is owned by Indian jeweler Rajesh Exports and whose precious metals refinery in Switzerland is the world’s largest, to expand into the Americas.

For Asahi, which has plants in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Chile and Japan and is owned by Japan’s Asahi Holdings, it would cement the company’s position in the region.

Asahi is already the largest refiner of gold mined in the Americas.

The sale comes amid a glut of global refining capacity that has helped to push down refining fees for many precious metals refiners in recent years.

Reuters reported earlier this month that Valcambi, which sought to buy RMC before it declared bankruptcy, had made a $16 million offer recognized by the court as a stalking horse bid.

That means an opening offer from Asahi would have to be around $580,000 higher than Valcambi’s to be accepted by the court. The two companies could then raise their offers.

RMC refines gold and silver and also processes carbon. Other bidders have made offers for the carbon assets, while Valcambi and Asahi have bid for the entire company, the sources said.

Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Veronica Brown and David Evans