Monday, July 4, 2011

Stepping Stone Secures €200m Line of equity for Astra Mining

Corporate advisory firm Stepping Stone Equity has secured a €200 million line of equity for Australian diversified resources company Astra Mining.

Brisbane, QLD, July 04, 2011 - The deal, which is the result of a term sheet signed on 26 April, will provide working capital and a project-standby facility for Astra after its Frankfurt Exchange listing in August while it finalises a major global prospectus being placed with a number of investment banks and international brokers.

The line of equity is being facilitated through private investment group Equity Partners Fund SPC with the backing of two major commercial banking institutions from Asia and South America.

Stepping Stone executive director James Skinner says the syndicated transaction will provide post-listing funding for a period of three years as and when needed by Astra Mining.

"Astra is an emerging global resource company with a number of opportunities either underway or in the pipeline, and as such this line of equity will enable them to continue to develop these opportunities," Mr Skinner says.

"Through Equity Partners Fund SPC we have managed to gain the backing of two large commercial banks, the Zigong Commercial Bank Company of China and the Banif Banco de Investimento of Brazil, with a third commercial bank in South East Asia considering additional facilities.

"We expect this line of equity to significantly boost interest in Astra’s unconditional listing on the Deutsche Börse next month when we expect them to debut at €1.50."

Astra Mining’s global portfolio includes gold and tin interests in south east Asia and southern India, coal mines in Australia and Africa, iron ore in India and Africa, and the production of a new high-strength steel technology.

Astra’s CEO Dr Jaydeep Biswas says the line of equity will ensure the company is able to continue to successfully operate on a global scale and comes at a pivotal point in time.

"Astra has a number of interests in the resources sector spanning four continents and this funding will help us continue with our projects immediately after our listing," Dr. Biswas says.

"We’re on the cusp of concluding our interests in several projects including joint ventures to produce gold and coal which will all add enormous value to the equity base of the company.

"We are also developing positions in high-grade iron ore mining and trading which puts us in a unique low-cost supply position for the steel manufacturing industry which we are also heavily involved in.

"As such we believe the line of equity will further propel the company towards becoming a leading worldwide resources group."

Stepping Stone Equity is an Australian based corporate finance company that is an associate partner and deal flow manager for private institutional investors operating a network of agents worldwide.

The firm, together with Gebo Equity Management, has assisted a number of companies list on the Deutsche Börse including most recently online gaming and entertainment company 2UP Gaming PLC (2GM:GR) who is currently trading at €0.26 per share, up from its listing of €0.10 per share, with a market capitalisation of approximately €72 million (USD$103 million at the current exchange rate).

Equity Partners Fund SPC, which has established separate portfolios for the two commercial banks, generally looks to invest in listed companies with consistent trading volumes for a variety of activities including working capital, acquisitions and other growth opportunities.

The fund’s investment guidelines, apart from a company’s size and liquidity, require them to have exceptional management and long-term sustainable growth opportunities with the potential to achieve significant milestones over a developmental period.

Bruce Nelson
Stepping Stone Equity
Level 9
100 Edward Street
Brisbane, QLD 4000

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