By Michelle Graff
Gemfields operates the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, pictured here. The company, which also mines rubies in Mozambique, recently received a buy-out offer that tops the one made by its biggest investor last month.
London--Shanghai-based investment company Fosun Gold announced this week that it’s making a play for colored gemstone miner Gemfields.

In its proposal dated June 14, Fosun offered to pay 40.85 pence per share (about $286 million) for the colored gemstone mining company, a 15.1 percent premium to Gemfields’ June 13 closing price of 35.50 pence and 10 percent above Pallinghurst Resources Ltd.’s offer of 37.10 pence per share.

The offer would “provide Gemfields shareholders with a compelling cash alternative at significant premium to the Pallinghurst offer,” Fosun said.

Pallinghurst, an investment fund formed by former BHP Billiton CEO Brian Gilberston, is Gemfields’ biggest investor and is looking to buy the 53 percent of the company it doesn’t already own.

Gemfields has said that Pallinghurst’s 37.10 pence per share offer “significantly undervalues” the company and, in a statement issued this week, noted it is “actively engaged” in discussions with Fosun Gold regarding a possible competing offer, which “may lead to a cash offer at a superior value to Pallinghurst’s unsolicited offer.”

Fosun Gold Holdings Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai-based Fosun International Ltd., an investment firm focused on “health, happiness and wealth” that has sunk money into companies like Cirque du Soleil, Club Med and Greek jewelry company Folli Follie.

In explaining its rationale for attempting to buy Gemfields, Fosun Gold said that “under the right ownership, Gemfields can continue to transform the colored gemstone market,” given its mining assets and marketing expertise.

Fosun also noted the potential it sees for Gemfields in China, where fine jewelry, including the exchange of engagement rings, is growing in popularity among consumers, stating that it “believes it has the financial capability and consumer expertise to allow Gemfields to accelerate and continue that trend as well as to help it access China, a previously underexploited market.”

Gemfields operates emerald and ruby mines in Zambia and Mozambique and owns the Faberge brand.

In its statement this week, the mining company said it “continues to strongly advise” shareholders not to take any action on Pallinghurst’s offer and wait for an update on the status of the discussion with Fosun Gold, which will come on or before June 27.

The Pallinghurst offer remains open for acceptance until July 4. Fosun, meanwhile, has until end of business on Aug. 5 to make a formal offer for Gemfields.

A Gemfields spokesperson said the company cannot comment on either offer beyond its published statements.

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