Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Asia Energy Frozen after Protest Deaths

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Asia Energy Frozen after Protest Deaths

Article excerpt


SHARES in Asia Energy slumped by almost 60% today before being suspended at 1171/2p with the outlook for the company appearing bleak.

The halt to trading in the shares follows violent protests at the group's key Phulbari project in Bangladesh that resulted in six demonstrators being shot dead by police and 120 being seriously hurt.

Asia Energy planned to spend $3 billion ([pounds sterling]1.6 billion) on the mine and a related power plant, and a further $10.4 billion over the next 30 years.

The protesters, along with local residents, politicians and rights groups, have objected to the project, claiming it would displace hundreds of families and damage the environment. The Bangladeshi government closed the mine following the deaths and after opposition parties called for a national strike.

Asia Energy was not available for comment and it is not known when, or if, the mine will be reopened.

The company, floated at below100p in London two years ago, and the shares were changing hands at a peak of 870p less than a year later.

One casualty of the news will be RAB Capital, down 23/4p at 961/2p. Its 15% stake is now worth only [pounds sterling]8.5 million. The same stake would have been worth more than [pounds sterling]65 million a year ago.

Share prices generally gave back some of yesterday's gains in thin trading.

The FTSE 100 index fell 11.5 to 5917.8. Mining shares made some of the early running with Antofagasta up 81/2p at 456p and Vedanta Resources 16p better at 1376p.

London Clubs International responded to news of Harrah's [pounds sterling]280 million, 125p-a-share offer with a jump of 313/4p to 1301/2p. LCI had been in merger talks with Stanley Leisure, up 241/2p at 643p, since June, following a move engineered by Malaysian outfit Genting, which has 30% of LCI and 13% of Stanley. …

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