JOHANNESBURG (Business Day) -- Two disgruntled groups - a company owed millions of dollars by the Democratic Republic of Congo government and private investors who believe they are owed compensation by businessman Niko Shefer - linked up to target minerals producer Metorex [JSE:MTX] at its annual general meeting yesterday.
They distributed a document to shareholders before the meeting questioning Metorex's title to its copper and cobalt project at Ruashi in the Congo.
Dan Pienaar, who said he was a Metorex shareholder but also emerged as a representative of the private investor group, quizzed Metorex management during question time.
It has been reported previously that Identiguard, a company which did work for the Congolese government for which it was not paid, had secured a garnishee order against any assets in South Africa owned by the Congolese government.
Identiguard has targeted JSE-listed Metorex for its claim because Metorex's Ruashi project has the Congolese government's minerals arm, G'ecamines, as a co-shareholder.
Metorex, however, has argued that Ruashi is held jointly by a company registered in Congo and no funds are received by Metorex in South Africa on behalf of the Congolese government.
The second group, for whom Pienaar spoke, were investors in a company called AM.
According to the document given out by Pienaar at the meeting, AM was established to compensate investors, many of them pensioners, in a commodities company run by Shefer called Tandan Group, which failed in 2000.
AM included both Shefer and former Tandan Group investors, and it acquired an option to the Ruashi project, on which it spent about R15-R20 million ($2.05-2.75 million) doing initial preparatory work.
Pienaar claimed the former Tandan Group investors were excluded from the sale of Ruashi to Metorex, although Shefer was not, and that Metorex had no proper title to the project.
He also said Metorex had misrepresented the situation to its shareholders when it raised funds for Ruashi.
Chairman Simon Malone said the title to Ruashi was always held by G'ecamines and it had been legally granted to and registered in Metorex's name.
A due diligence had been performed on the project by respected engineering consultants SRK and a legal due diligence by respected attorneys Bowman Gilfillan.
"We have no problem discussing factual matters but not emotional matters," Malone said.
Malone said Metorex was now a third of the way through its new financial year and high mineral prices were supporting its performance.