Forced Diversity: A Social Disaster

Maritime Resources

Over the last couple of years, public companies have been arm-twisted into promoting certain people to meet diversity criteria. Of course, this has come at the cost of meritocracy and has become a rationality trap. Forced diversity does tremendous social harm, although when accepted as a necessity, individual companies lose out if they don’t have a diversity program. Fund Managers are hesitant to invest in companies that do not have at least a woman on the board of Directors. Big companies and even junior mining companies have been forced into implementing diversity. Here are my thoughts:

On Investments

I have written about Maritime Resources (MAE; $0.045) several times. I pay close attention, for I am likely the largest non-institutional shareholder. MAE recently released a news release about the completion of a feasibility report. The report is yet to be filed, but it meets most of my expectations.

MAE is trading for its lowest ever. It had a working capital of $0.5 million on 30th June 2022. The quarterly corporate expenses are more than $0.6 million. This means that MAE likely has a working capital deficit today and must be desperate to raise money.

If they raise one-third of the capital requirement in equity, MAE will get diluted by >100%, even if they issue no warrants, destroying any upside. Investors knowing fully well that the company needs cash, have no reason to buy at $0.05, which is also the lowest price at which the stock exchange allows companies to raise money. So, I cannot see why investors would give a bid higher than $0.045 and not sell at $0.05.

MAE share price is stuck in a $0.04 and $0.05 range. And there is no significant news awaited to lift the share price. I don’t envy the management, and I certainly don’t envy my position as a shareholder.

A few years back, Signal Gold made a hostile bid for MAE for half of their share. If the same offer came again, it would be worth $0.20. I don’t see such an offer coming. Still, a merger with Signal would remove the corporate expenses related to MAE, a saving of $2.5 million per year, a significant value for a small company. Operationally, it would be a massive win-win. MAE has $25 per tonne ore as trucking costs. This should fall significantly if the mill of Signal is used. With lower operating costs, they can perhaps even reduce the grade delivered to the mill and increase the total resources. Signal would benefit from a higher-grade ore for their hungry mill.

What would Signal pay for MAE? I see enough value in MAE to get an offer between $0.075 and $0.14. Moreover, a three-way merger of MAE, Signal Resources, and Rambler Metals & Mining would significantly reduce the corporate expenses of these three small companies and provide several other operational synergies than what I have explained above.

What would I do now? I would buy MAE at $0.04, hoping that a corporate transaction would happen. And I do hope that they do not raise money at the current share price.

Jayant Bhandari

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