Links and Norton Rose act on DRC mining mega-merger

Linklaters and Norton Rose have secured the recommended merger of two mining giants with assets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Linklaters’ AIM-listed client Nikanor is merging with Norton Rose client Katanga to form a $3.3bn (£1.6bn) company that plans to list on the London and Toronto stock exchanges within five months. The two companies own adjacent copper and cobalt mines in the DRC.

Linklaters’ team was led by head of mining Charlie Jacobs and corporate partner Robert Cleaver. Co-advising Nikanor was Stikeman Elliott in Canada and Cains in the Isle of Man.

The magic circle firm has an established relationship with Nikanor, having advised the company on its $1.5bn (£720m) AIM flotation in July 2006.

Norton Rose’s team was led by projects partner Jonathan Brufal and Paris-based co-chair of litigation Alexander Brabant. Co-advising Katanga, which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, was Canadian firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell and Appleby in Bermuda. The company has been a client for around a year, said the firm.

Simmons & Simmons also landed a role on the deal advising investment house RP Capital, which manages several entities that hold shares in both Katanga and Nikanor. RP signed irrevocable undertakings with Nikanor as part of the deal. Corporate partners Richard May and Arthur Stewart led the team. In June, the firm advised RP on its $372m (£178.7m) cash placing by Nikanor.

The transaction is the second major corporate deal in Africa on which Jacobs has advised in the last two weeks, coming after client Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s purchase of a £2.2bn stake in Standard Bank (www.thelawyer.com, 25 October).

He said: “We are pleased to be acting for the company again on its merger with Katanga, which represents a significant step in the transformation of the DRC’s mining sector and creates an industry leader in copper and cobalt. The transaction continues our track-record of advising on the leading deals in Africa and in the mining sector.”