Shares of Turquoise Hill sank on Wednesday after the hedge fund said it did not believe the $4.4 billion project finance package related to the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia is accurately described as “project” finance.
Turquoise Hill, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, owns two-thirds of the Oyu Tolgoi giant copper mine with the rest owned by the Mongolian government. The mine is Rio’s biggest copper growth project, but it has faced geological challenges and legal setbacks.
Odey said Rio Tinto was allowing a false market for Turquoise Hill’s shares with a rights issue from the Canadian company on the horizon. The hedge fund owns shares in Rio Tinto and has a short position in Turquoise Hill.
In a letter to Rio Tinto’s finance chief Jakob Stausholm the fund said Turquoise Hill would require an $8.9bn rights issue after delays and budget overruns at Oyu Tolgoi.
“Indeed, Odey has sought to ask questions on both Rio Tinto’s and Turquoise Hill’s public earnings calls, but Odey has not been given the opportunity on these calls to propose any such questions, limiting the opportunity for greater public scrutiny of the Oyu Tolgoi investment case,” the investment firm said.
In July, Rio Tinto said it cut estimated reserves at its underground copper mine extension of Oyu Tolgoi and confirmed it would face delays and higher costs after ground instability forced it to redesign the mine plan.
Turquoise Hill said Thursday that an additional $1.1 billion would need to be sourced with further bank debt, bonds or a metal stream should it and Rio re-profile existing debt and raise an additional $500 million of debt as contemplated.
The company said it would need to raise additional equity of at least $3 billion if neither the re-profiling nor additional debt or hybrid financing is completed.
Midday Thursday, Turquoise Hill’s stock was down 9.8% on the NYSE. The company has a $1.94 billion market capitalization.