The Takeovers Panel has emerged as a potential saviour for thousands of angry minority shareholders of Flinders Mines, who are vigorously opposing plans by the Pilbara iron ore hopeful to delist from the ASX.

The panel announced yesterday it had received an application from shareholder Brendon Dunstan seeking orders prohibiting Flinders from proceeding with the proposed delisting.

Flinders, majority-owned by New Zealand’s Todd Corporation, announced plans to delist last month, citing low levels of liquidity in its trading, difficulty in accessing essential funding and the costs of remaining a listed entity.

The news prompted a 50 per cent slump in Flinders’ share price and raised the ire of minority shareholders who view the proposal as a ploy by Todd to tighten its grip on the company by squeezing them out without having to pay the type of premium typically associated with a takeover.

WestBusiness understands the panel applicant, Mr Dunstan, is a Dubbo-based criminal lawyer who owns about 12 million Flinders shares.

Mr Dunstan has argued to the panel that if a shareholder vote on the delisting is allowed, Todd and its associates should be excluded from the poll.

He has also called for an independent expert’s report advising on the merits of the proposal and wants the January 22 vote postponed to give shareholders more time to consider their position.

The panel did not comment on the merits of Mr Dunstan’s application and has not yet decided whether to conduct proceedings.

Livid minority shareholders of Flinders have fired off hundreds of missives to the ASX and Australian Securities and Investments Commission in recent weeks, appealing for them to intervene in the proposed delisting.

WestBusiness has had nearly 100 complaints about the plan.

The ASX has conditionally approved the company’s plans, while ASIC has so far declined to comment.

Flinders has struggled for years to develop its stranded 1.4 billion-tonne Pilbara iron ore project.

Todd holds about 55 per cent of the company after two failed takeover attempts in 2015 and 2016.

The family-owned Todd is also the majority shareholder in BBI Group, which has proposed a $6billion port and rail project in the Pilbara, potentially providing a transport solution for Flinders’ project.

But progress on that has been slow.

 

Image: ASX display board, The West Australian