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Market Chatter: First Quantum Chasing Inmet Seen Start of Bids

The cheapest copper mining deal in five years has traders convinced that First Quantum Minerals Ltd.'s (FM.TO) latest bid for Inmet Mining Corp. (IMN.TO) won't be its last, Bloomberg reported.

The C$5.1 billion ($5.2 billion) offer values Inmet, owner of the second-biggest copper mine under construction, at the lowest multiple of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for a deal of its size in the industry since 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Inmet shares climbed yesterday 1.2% above the C$72-a-share proposal, First Quantum's third offer for the Toronto-based company since October, indicating arbitrageurs who bet on acquisitions expect another boost, the data show.

After Inmet last week raised estimates for the amount of copper contained at its Cobre Panama mine, Canaccord Financial Inc. said it would take a bid of at least C$80 a share to win over investors, particularly with the top shareholders controlling a majority of the stock. While Inmet could draw other suitors, Vancouver-based First Quantum's desire for a friendly deal suggests it may be willing to pay more whether or not there are rival bidders, according to Bank of Montreal.

"The market is clearly saying that we are going to need a higher price to push this through," Barry Schwartz, a Toronto-based fund manager at Baskin Financial Services Inc., which oversees about C$450 million including Inmet shares, said in a telephone interview. Cobre Panama "is going to be one of the greatest mines that's going to come on stream in the second half of the decade. We're running out of quality finds of copper, and Inmet has one of them."

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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