LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - African Copper Plc said it received a demand fo
r the redemption of 150 million Botswana Pula ($22.3 million) bonds calling for immediate repayment of the principal amount and accrued interest.
Shares in the AIM-listed company fell 31 percent to 7 pence at 1120 GMT, valuing the copper explorer at about 10.3 million pounds ($16.73 million).
The bonds, issued by wholly owned subsidiary Messina Copper and previously held by Botswana institutions, have been bought by Natasa Mining Limited.
African Copper's directors are seeking legal advice in relation to Messina's obligations.
Earlier this month, African Copper shareholders rejected a takeover offer from mining investment firm Natasa, which would have replaced the whole board of African Copper, leaving the way open for rival bidder Zambia Copper Investments Ltd (ZCI) .
Mike Stuart, analyst at Numis Securities, linked the demand for repayment to Natasa having lost out on the bidding.
And he added: 'Natasa was a bit of a last resort for African Copper before ZCI came on the scene.'
African Copper said the demand alleges events of default of certain terms attached to the bonds.
On Wednesday, African Copper paid 12.25 million Pula of outstanding interest to bondholders.
In a seperate statement on Friday, Natatsa said it lodged a petition with the High Court of Botswana for the winding up of Messina and the appointment of a provisional liquidator.
Natasa said it is owed about $25.6 million by African Copper and, based on information in the public domain, believes it is the single largest creditor.
Stuart said bondholders were due to receive about $5 million, or 25 percent of the face value, of the bonds.
'Natasa is now demanding full payment, which is another $15 million that African Copper doesn't have at the moment', he said.
African Copper is developing its first copper mine at the Mowana Mine and holds permits in exploration properties at the Matsitama Project. The Mowana Mine was placed on care and maintenance on Jan 21 pending the completion of financing talks.
(Reporting by Julie Crust; Editing by Sharon Lindores) Keywords: AFRICAN COPPER/BOND
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