MINTER ELLISON acted for global nuclear energy giant Areva in its re-entry to the Australian uranium exploration sector last month.
Areva subsidiary Cogema Australia purchased 6 million new shares in Northern Uranium Limited, providing the company with an extra $4.8 million, and giving the France-headquartered Areva an 18.5 per cent stake in the company after it originally acquired 6.25 per cent of Northern in its IPO late last year.
Another subsidiary of Areva, Afmeco Mining and Exploration has also been appointed to carry out exploration on Northern’s main uranium asset Gardiner-Tanami Super Project, which straddles the WA and NT borders.
Deacons advised Northern and sole practitioner Brett Simpson advised Afmeco.
Areva will also provide technical services to support Northern’s exploration in Australia and has been granted marketing and off-take rights to all uranium mined by Northern that is not controlled by other owners.
Minters’ lead partner on the deal, Sebastian Hempel, said the transaction involved an innovative advance purchase of options to be issued by Northern under a “pending rights issue”, which will allow Areva to maintain or increase its stake.
It was also structured as a “two-tier deal”, with a significant stake at the shareholder level and a “comprehensive contract at the operating level”.
“This was a transaction that required corporate listed company M&A expertise, commercial contracts experience and a real understanding of the resources sector,” Hempel said.
Hempel’s team included commercial and resources specialists Andrew Thompson, Trent Simon and Brett Simpson.
Northern executive chairman Kevin Shultz said Areva’s experience in uranium exploration and mining in Canada’s Athabasca Basin would be particularly useful as the geology of the two regions was very similar.
Afmeco managing director Phillipe Portella is expected to take a place on Northern’s board.