Asanko Gold Inc., which mines the metal in West Africa, was halted in Toronto trading after Muddy Waters LLC said it was shorting the stock, believing it “highly likely to end up a zero.”
In a research note dated Wednesday, the activist short seller founded by Carson Block said the company made investments in Ghana, West Africa, based on flawed resources estimates and will likely run out of liquidity in 2018.
“The best-case medium-term scenario seems to be an extremely dilutive equity raise, possibly approximating half of AKG’s market cap,” the report said, referring to Asanko by its Canadian stock ticker. “The worst case scenario – and not a remote one in our view – is bankruptcy.” Regardless, the stock is highly likely to end up worthless, Muddy Waters said.
A phone call and email to Vancouver-based Asanko weren’t answered before the start of regular business hours.
In June 2016, K2 & Associates Investment Management Inc. wrote that the company had 90 percent downside potential, leading Asanko to stand by its guidance.
In an interview with the Canadian TV network BNN, Block said K2’s initial short report was correct in revealing geological risks, but since then the company’s situation has deteriorated as its Nkran satellite pit risks “pinching out.” The report defines that term as costs exceeding expected revenue, meaning it’s not profitable to mine further.
Asanko fell 13 percent to C$2.19 before trading was halted in Toronto on Wednesday.
Block has established a name as a short seller with high-profile bets against companies including Sino-Forest Corp., and more recently China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co. He’s also tussled with Olam International Ltd., a Singapore-based trader of agricultural commodities, and Noble Group Ltd.
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