THE FRIEDA River Copper Gold project will be majority owned by Chinese company Guangdong Rising Assets Management (GRAM) after the group bought Australia-based PanAust in a deal worth about A$1.2 billion.

GRAM subsidiary Guangdong Rising H.K. (GRHK) initially made a takeover offer of A$1.71 per share in March, but this was rejected by the PanAust board as undervalued.

The company revised its offer in early May to $1.85 per share, which was recommended by PanAust directors and subsequently accepted by more than 90 per cent of its shareholders.

This has led GRHK to compulsorily acquire the outstanding shares, with PanAust formally de-listing from the Australian Securities Exchange in early June.

PanAust chairman Garry Hounsell said the Frieda River project was a substantial long-term growth asset for the company.

“GRAM is well-placed to support the long-term strategy of the company, including the development of the Frieda River project in PNG,” he said.

PanAust acquired its 80% interest in the Frieda River project from Glencore on 25 August 2014. The minority partner in the project is fellow Australian company Highlands Pacific, with a 20% stake.

Highlands chairman Ken MacDonald told shareholders that GRAM has stated its intention to proceed with a proposed feasibility study into the project.

“We believe we will be able to work well with GRAM in the event that their recommended takeover offer is successful as we have a mutual goal to more the Frieda River project into production,” he said in his address to shareholders.