--Shares in Thungela Resources fell on its stock market debut after a research group alleged the company's coal mines have no value
--A report by Boatman Capital said the Anglo American spinoff's environmental liabilities could be three times higher than previously estimated
--A spokesman for Anglo American said that Thungela's environmental provision is the industry norm and that the sums alleged by the report are artificially inflated
By Joe Hoppe
Thungela Resources Ltd. shares fell on their first day of trading Monday after researcher Boatman Capital claimed that the Anglo American PLC spinoff is underreporting its environmental liabilities and called the company's coal mines worthless.
Shares in Thungela in London at 1149 GMT were down 32.0 pence, or 21%, at 118.0 pence, having fallen as much as 27% earlier in the session. Shares in Anglo American in London were down 60.5 pence, or 1.9% at 3,194.0 pence.
Shares in the South African coal business, which listed in London and Johannesburg on Monday, slumped after short seller Boatman Capital published a report alleging that the company's environmental liabilities may be three times greater than previously reported, which would make them higher than the company's listed value of 3.4 billion rand ($253.3 million) upon its initial public offering. Boatman Capital also said that Thungela's financial model attributes zero value to the company.
The short seller said it believes that Thungela has massively underestimated the clean-up liabilities associated with closing its mines, which have five to 11 years of expected life remaining. It also said that new regulations, which will impose tougher standards on the mining industry, will substantially increase environmental provisioning.
"We anticipate that the company may be able to pay some dividends initially thanks to Anglo's price support and dowry, but we believe beyond that point the dividends will be unsustainable and the true value of the company will become obvious," Boatman said.
A spokesman for Anglo American said that Thungela's provision of ZAR6.45 billion earmarked for clean-up is above and beyond regulatory guidance for miners in South Africa and is consistent with industry norms, and that the draft sums provided by Boatman were arbitrary.
"The basis for provisioning under South Africa's draft NEMA regulations simply does not accurately reflect the actual or likely sums needed to discharge such liabilities. It is precisely because these sums are considered to be artificial, and arbitrarily inflated, that the draft has remained under review since 2015," the Anglo American spokesman said.
The new NEMA rules were due to come into force on June 19, but the date was pushed back to June 2022 by the South African government after miners raised objections. Boatman estimated that Thungela's total end-of-life environmental costs could reach ZAR18.8 billion.
"This is an industry-wide matter in South Africa, so the regulations on which the Boatman report apparently draws its conclusion are far from being finalized," the spokesman added.
Write to Joe Hoppe at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires