Bloomberg News

Congo’s Forrest Takes Gecamines to Arbitration Over Forced Sale

September 02, 2011

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Entreprise Generale Malta Forrest said it filed for arbitration with Democratic Republic of Congo’s Gecamines for trying to “illegally appropriate” one of its copper and cobalt mines. Gecamines denies the charges.

Lubumbashi-based EGMF, owned by the family of mining magnate George Forrest, said it filed charges on Aug. 24 against state-owned Gecamines to the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce’s International Arbitration Court. EGMF said Gecamines last month forced the sale of a 60 percent stake it held in Compagnie Miniere du Sud Katanga.

Gecamines, which owns the other 40 percent of CMSK, made the purchase request, which was later backed by the Commercial Tribunal in Lubumbashi, after it was told that Forrest wanted to buy the same stake from the company his family owns, EGMF said. EGMF said it never intended to sell its stake.

Gecamines Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Kalej said its joint-venture agreement gave it the right of first refusal, which it used when EGMF attempted to sell the stake. The sale was “legal and binding,” he said in a phone interview from Lubumbashi today.

EGMF said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that it had “clearly repeated that it doesn’t want to sell its stake and that the first refusal was groundless. Despite this, Gecamines wants to force EGMF to sell it its stake.”

CMSK operates mines north of Lubumbashi that produce 4,000 metric tons of cobalt and 12,000 tons of copper a year, according to its website.

--Editors: Jennifer M. Freedman, Paul Richardson

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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