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Nevsun Resources Buys Its Own Shares

To quell speculation amid escalating tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Nevsun Resources buys back its own shares in an attempt to boost investor confidence.

Nevsun Resources has been facing difficulties while its partner, the Eritrean government that expected high returns from the Bisha gold mine, is in shock watching its easy cash dreams evaporate.  This morning before markets opened, Nevsun announced a 2% stock buyback of its common shares to boost investor’s confidence and to ward off speculations that it might pull out of Eritrea following Ethiopia’s attack on Eritrea. Once again, aware of the tremendous political risk Nevsun faces with its only cash-generating entity located in war torn region, investors were not swayed. The stock went up by less than 10 cents to $3.50 at opening to reflect the new stock valuations after buyback.

The gold mine in Eritrea which is operated by Nevsun Resources is at Bisha, which covers 18 square miles (49 square km) and is approximately 93 miles (150 km) west of the Eritrean capital, Asmara, and 40 miles (65 km) from the western part of  the Ethiopian frontier where the politically significant Badme village lies.

The mine is co-owned by the ruling [and only legal] party in Eritrea which owns 40% of the shares through the Eritrean National Mining Corp (ENAMCO).

Nevsun Resources, once speculated as a future prime takeover candidate, has been marred by legal troubles as was predicted by many observers after February 7, 2012 when it disclosed that it had materially overstated the gold reserves at the Bisha Mine by nearly 50% (190,000 ounces to 210,000 ounces of gold this year compared to 379,000 ounces last year).

The Company’s share price fell precipitously by 40% on that announcement and has been dropping since then. Currently, it is trading at $3.39 from a high of $6.69 before the disclosure, a 50% drop, and $659 million loss in market capitalization.

On March 12, 2012, citing disappointing stock performance, The Street Ratings downgraded Nevsun from “buy” to “hold.”

On March 15, 2012, in an attempt to restore investor’s confidence, Nevsun appointed Anthony Ferguson as an independent director, but that act did little to move its stock price up.

Mr. Ferguson is a retired investment banker who came from Macquarie Capital (formerly Investment Banking Group), which is one of the five principal operating groups of Macquarie, which allegedly has been perpetrating a financial scam through one of its groups.

Seven law firms (Shareholder foundations, Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP , Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, Izard Nobel LLP, Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC (“KSF”) and KSF partner, the former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr, Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, and the Law Offices of Howard G. Smith) filed separate securities class action lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased the common stock of Nevsun Resources Ltd. between March 31, 2011 and February 6, 2012.

One of the complaints alleges that “defendants issued materially false and misleading statements and failed to disclose that: (i) Nevsun’s mining activities at the Bisha mine produced a material amount of waste rock, rather than gold ore; (ii) the amounts of gold and gold ore recovered from the Bisha mine were materially less than estimated by the Company’s reserve estimate, a situation which defendants knew or had reason to know based on data routinely collected throughout the Class Period from the Bisha mine; (iii) Nevsun was progressing through the ore body at the Bisha mine much more quickly than planned, in order to maintain gold production at a rate that would not reveal to investors that the amount of gold was materially less than the Company’s estimate; (iv) the Company was aware that its resource model was materially defective because the actual amounts of gold mined at Bisha did not reconcile with the Company’s reserve estimate previously disseminated to the investing public; and (v), Nevsun materially overstated its gold reserves at the Bisha mine.”

On August 23, 2011, after a yearlong dispute with the Eritrean government, Nevsun finalized a deal to sell a 30% stake of the Bisha gold mine to ENAMCO for US $253.5. The money was to be paid from the after-tax cash flow generated by the Bisha mine. Our sources in Asmara indicate that Eritrea’s strongman, Isaias Afwerki, felt cheated by the deal as it did not reflect the fair value of the mine and that Nevsun knew at the time of negotiations that the gold reserve of Bisha was overestimated by 50%.  As was reported in Wikileaks, Nevsun investors demanded upfront recovery of their capital in the first two years, which surprisingly coincided with Nevsun’s disclosure of an overestimation of returns.

In the event that gold productions cease because of key personnel evacuation for any reason, Nevsun will face a new wave of lawsuits alleging that it has misled investors by the overly optimistic assessment of  the investment climate and stability in Eritrea: for example, on Jan 18, 2011, its chairperson and CEO, Cliff Davis said, “I feel as safe [in Eritrea] as I do in Vancouver.”  However, with 100% of Nevsun’s cash flows coming from Bisha mine, class action lawsuits may be the least of its worries.

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  • Ismael Berhanu

    It sounds like we have a lot of ‘pro’ investors here. But one thing Awate missed is to ask a very important question (away from emotions and hate), why do companies by back their shares? The answer is because they see good years ahead. So please try to teach readers something about investing on the way.
    By the way the market doesn’t care about a ‘Gedab News’ article. You may be preventing Eritreans from making money from Nevsun by instilling fear (the ones that believe your ‘news’, of course). But remember there are millions out there hunting for bargains and they may be the ones making all the money. I am not opposed to you views (if it has truth at all) but from basic investing and market logic, companies buy back shares if they have a positive outlook, not otherwise.
    So please do your country men and women a favor. And remember, you are not putting a tiny dent on Nevsun’s. After all, the big institutional investors that have a say on the stock price of Nevsun don’t give a crap about awate.com’s gedab.

    • awatestaff


      This is your first* posting, so we will give you a break. Even more, we will give you a preview of how your future at awate.com will be like if you don’t immediately reconsider your condescending ways: the club bouncer will show you the door and, subsequently, you can tell tall tales of how you were banned. Got it? Now, take notes although, from your writing so far, you appear to be one of those people who has two mouths and 1 ear:

      1. You said “one thing awate missed is to ask a very important question… why do companies buy back their shares.” Our answer is there in the first and second paragraph of our news. You can say I don’t believe you, but you can’t say we forgot to answer the question. In the eyes of our readers, when you say that, you come across as an ignoramus:

      2. As a publicly-traded company, Nevsun is in the business of maximizing the returns of its shareholders, and its management has a fiduciary responsibility to do that. Since Bisha became operational in Eritrea, many Eritreans have made the argument that, given the massive human rights violations in Eritrea, given the history of how the Eritrean ruling party is involved in war profiteering, and given the near-extinction of some of our Eritrean tribes, Nevsun is involved in blood money. Since the 2008 financial meltdown, it has also come to light that the compensation package of Western company executives (especially financial institutions) rewards bad behavior up to and including swindling the shareholders. Nevsun made a catastrophic mistake that just last month, resulted in its market cap being slashed in half. Whether this mistake was a simple mistake, or a con, or gross negligence is something that will be settled by attorneys and courts. If you and other Eritreans believe that Nevsun is a good bet, go ahead and put your money where your mouth is. Nevsun and the propaganda office of the PFDJ has been pimping this company’s stock and we have seen the result. We are giving the other side of the profile of this company and we believe it is headed for the cliffs. People can make a decision, but it will no longer be based just on the fluffy and soft porn pieces put out by Nevsun and PFDJ.

      3. When companies buy back their shares it is not always because they have a positive outlook. But since you have already presented yourself as a pompous know-it-all, we expect you to do your research on why that is.

      4. Regarding your claim that institutional investors “don’t give a crap about awate.com’s gedab,” two things here. One deals with the amorality of the markets: even if the BBC were to announce it has a massive documentary that there are child laborers working the mines and that, on average, 2 people die a day while mining, the market would try to bury the news and if it got out, it would figure out a way to make the most of it. The other deals with small media, like Gedab News. In the old model, news by small outlets, if credible, gets amplified by bigger news media about whom companies like Nevsun give a crap. (Example: what Gedab News and our hero Elsa Chyrum may report gets picked up by large human rights organizations who find our information credible.) But if you look at how the class-action suit against Nevsun is being driven–and we are sure you didn’t because you appear like one of those swaggering shoot first and ask questions later guys: for example, you completely missed why Mohammed Ahmed brought the issue of Apple buyback of its shares–you would know it was all social media: facebook and twitter. So Nevsun better pay attention to what a “nobody”, or a whole bunch of nobodies, are writing at twitter or facebook–actually, we prefer they don’t: we quite enjoy the pride before the fall.

      So, calm yourself down, read the threads first. And if you must comment, leave your little swag elsewhere or you can consider your posting your hello and goodbye post. In other words, to use your words, this website doesn’t “give a crap” about your presence here.

      * When we you say your “first”, of course we are aware that you already posted as “viva” and “gaH ybel” where you disclosed you are a government supporter. And there, in a nutshell, is why the PFDJ will collapse: it is full of people who think deception is the rule, and they are too smart to be caught.

  • wed. garza

    The cofffin of the govt. is certainly drying day by day.
    Summer time is approaching with a mixed signs of added turmoil around Eritrea. The govt. hoped to design a plan of attracting Eritrean tourists he failed to coollect 2% incom tax from the diaspora Eritreans. But now situations are changing to severe the already worse situation at home.
    Who would with sane mentality take risk of boarding his children and wife for that trouble maker land’s sejourn? what if war breaks there? what’s a guaranti that my children escape the risk? are questions that boggling many minds at the present, I know many have already changed and cancelled their bookings in time.
    And Ethiopia has given the sign clearly, warning the summer tourists for their live!! And keep the regime dry from its habitual sourses of income. The “beles” of the season as Isayas normally use to call them, because they are seasonal. This time they are the source of the hard currency for the country ailing to its bones for the lack thereof. war is looming, youths fleeing and hunger is booming and Isayas 40 meters under ground scared shrinking.

  • guest

    Nevsun down 4% today
    Current pirce 3.25

    related news
    “TORONTO (miningweekly.com) � Nevsun Resources, which owns the Bisha gold
    mine in Eritrea, made $78.3-million in net after-tax earnings in the last
    three months of 2011, about 12% lower than the previous quarter�s profit,
    as output and prices shrunk.”

  • Mohammed Ahmed

    Hi hailemechael,

    The key here is the source of funds – what did NEVSUN use to buy back its shares? It used its cash reserves – which technically is borrowed money in on itself, and which by the way the cash-strapped company needs badly to stash away for contingencies and also in this case – for its base metal mining prospects, which as you said, many are pinning their hopes on.

    Did the investors bite? No, they didn’t – for one simple reason: they know that all NEVSUN is doing (unlike Apple) is just reshuffling. For a company that lost a whopping 50% of its share value, a regain of 1.2 or 1.3% of the value is nothing – it can hardly account for normal fluctuations due to market volatility or other anomalies.

    The company’s buy back of its own shares did not result in any material gain for its stock and the volume traded was dismal. There are three main reasons for this: (1) it was caught lying the first time around (over-inflated reserves). Investor/market confidence is not something you can flash out from your back pocket, it needs years to build – valuable time which NEVSUN doesn’t have (2) its tactic of addressing the first issue was even more cynical; it tried to act as if it is afloat with cash (like Apple!) and tried to induce the market when it knew all too well that it didn’t have funds earmarked for that purpose, and (3) its future is bleak, to say the least. A market value cut down by half, failed revival attempts, evaporated investor confidence, class action lawsuits (double-aged sword: massive litigation costs and further erosion of market confidence) – and worse yet, depleted contingency reserves.

    And that’s not all….

    Where will the money come from to shift to the base metal mining? Now, even a grandmother can tell you that copper and zinc are not worth their weight in gold – a lot has to be mined to make a fraction of what gold would earn you. That means there is a capacity issue here – a massive production commitment, in other words. That translates into massive infusion of capital/cash money which was supposed to come to a greater degree from the gold production, which we now know is all but evaporated.

    So, how will this massive cash requirement be met in order for NEVSUN to make a sudden shift to the base metals?

    The conventional lenders won’t touch NEVSUN with a 10’ pole; that is a given based on its now discredited record and its ensuing abysmal performance. Loan sharks and/or vultures may step in for bailout, but they will devour what is left of it. The only other option left for the company would be to sell its operation to say, the Chinese. These ones in turn, will try to get it for next to nothing – perhaps a $1.00 – $1.25 a share at the most. Whichever way you cut it, the investors will be burned.

    And don’t you ever think even for a moment that the company executives care about you – the little investor, they don’t. They’ve already made their money and they know how to make use of insolvency statutes when it comes to the company.
    The result – NEVSUN is doomed – get out while you can.

    NB: The stock lost 4% of its value in yesterday’s trade; more than twice the dismal gain it made since the buyback was announced. Again, it opened lower this morning and it was down another 1% in the first couple of hours of trading – not very good.
    Another strange co-incidence – look at the ticker symbol for the stock; it is dubbed “NSU” – how prophetic!

    Stock Quote
    Symbol: TSX: NSU

    LAST: $3.32 TRADE TIME: 10:02am
    CHANGE: -0.03 DAY RANGE: 3.20 – 3.33
    PREV CLOSE: 3.35 52WK RANGE: 7.22 – 3.19
    OPEN: 3.30 VOLUME: 73237
    BID: 3.32 ASK: 3.33


    Symbol: AMEX: NSU

    • hailemichael


      This sounded a well thought out analysis than your earlier one. In any rate, NSU lost just under half of its common share value, which would make me a little hesitant to term that as “evaporation” and its base metal production is already budgeted for since the inception of its feasibility and pre feasibility studies. For a junior mining venture, and given the risks and challenges it faced, it has done a commendably positioned feat. NSU viewed as a gold portfolio is totally different to when viewed as base metal, from investor perspective that is. Gold has had a rallying year all around in 2011, and all of those factors have increased NSU’s visibility. As a base metal extractor, NSU would mostly attract the more long term type investor that is not hooked on a day to day ups or down of the market, but rather interested in the snail pace growth. By the way, NSU is not cash strapped by any measure, it is actually in the look out for expansion on other licenses.

    • Timnit

      Superb analysis Mohammed! Even I, an absolute ignoramus about stock market, was able to understand the logic. And what makes your analysis even more appealing is that you didn’t resort to ad hominem to drive your point across. Thank you!

      • Mohammed Ahmed


        Thanks so much for being so kind. The credit actually goes to the formidable GEDAB News for putting NEVSUN back on radar. As always, it lived up to its motto of Inform, Inspire and Embolden.

    • Hiruy

      Thank you Mohammed for the lesson.

      “Another strange co-incidence – look at the ticker symbol for the stock; it is dubbed “NSU” –

      When the stock was at 7s people at dehai.org admiring about the “NSU”:) I wonder if they still do that now the stock half of that price and Nsu no where to be seen after the ethiopia attack.

      • Mohammed Ahmed

        Thanks Hiruy, I appreciate your kindness as well.

        enda HGDEF are in shambles these days and by the looks of it, 2012 may very well be the year…

    • Ismael Berhanu

      mohammed, at least you have some basic concepts to even say something about the market. But I hate to see your analysis bogged to daily fluctuations. Low trading volume and a few percent decrease in the price doesn’t explain anything. Wait until the institutional investors react either way before you can just into conclusions. And the grandmother comment is too amateurish. Look at it from the point of view of copper price on the world market. Even American’s are collecting copper coins (1 cents) these days. Thieves are bringing down electrical wires and hunting for abandoned houses looking for the metal. We know it is valuable. Why do you assume differently. It may not be as expensive as Gold, but it is not as hard as Gold to extract. Copper and Gold are not Isayas. Did you check the P/E ratio of this company? And compare it with similar Gold/copper producing entities? Why would you even compare Apple with Nevsun? The last time I checked Apple is not in the excavation business.
      I bet our people are gaining knowledge from these conversations, at least they will start thinking of investing instead of stashing the money under their pillow. That is positive. But I hate to see when one provides a misguided investment advice in order to feed his/her political ambition.

  • Serray


    Normally, shares buyback reflects the company’s belief its shares are undervalued. But a buyback after a steep price decline as result of management’s screwed up is opportunistic, to say the least. Management is supposed to increase shareholders value and not buy them out when they are down and out. The right thing to do with the excess cash was to increase dividend to compensate for the decline in stock price. But this is not a company which does the right thing. After all, the company is a marriage between pure evil and pure greed.

    Haile, (giving you back your rightful handle) your Apple and Nevsun comparison works under normal circumstance. Imagine if Apple were to reveal that the new ipad explodes after a couple of hundred hours of use and the stock will nose dive. If apple then comes out with shares buyback plan, think of the uproar. Your last sentence….if you are an analyst following this company and you dismissed Mohammed’s comments because they are politically motivated, your boss will hung you. Politics is deeply baked into the investment decision of this company.

  • Kokhob Selam

    “Aqli stebet konynini ayke’alkun nebeyney” is the answer the action taken by this company.

  • Mohammed Ahmed


    Buying their shares back doesn’t necessarily mean that they are investing more (internally or externally) – they are just trading assets for liabilities. In this particular case, it is not an investment as you said; it is actually a trade-off, where they’re eating up on their cash reserves to pay debt.

    Also, in this kind of business (mining), most of the time, cash reserves are earmarked to allow for operational contingencies – so by eroding its reserves just to fool its shareholders/investors (band-aid solution), NEVSUN is actually wide open to a complete melt-down. It will choke to death at the first serious hiccup it faces. (with the dictator as a partner, they will never run short of hiccups).

    What this does is that, it sends shockwaves through the investor market (which explains the plummeting value, the class action lawsuits etc.) and even worse yet, it erodes long-term investor confidence which makes it very hard, if not impossible to build the market value back. (just look at the stark similarities between NEVSUN and BRE-X Minerals Ltd. – you would be alarmed)

    There is a complete opposite scenario where companies do buy back their shares or pay dividends to their shareholders when they are doing extremely well in the market with positive cash flows, where they would use their excess cash/retained earnings for that purpose. Just not to confuse the two situations, NEVSUN isn’t anywhere near that scenario my friend.

    So for whatever it is worth – here is a simple advice. If you are an investor, now is the right time to get out. Dump NEVSUN’s shares while you can. You may lose some of your hard earned cash by doing so – but at least; you will mitigate your costs and avoid losing all your cash when the stuff hits the fan.

    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

      Mohammed Ahmed,

      Hope the seven paragraph crash course on investment is a pro-bono on your part. I wonder how much we would have owed you if you were to charge us for consultation. Many thanks for the lesson.

      • Mohammed Ahmed


        Just a simple observation, nothing much. In the spirit of Awate, all services provided and/or all efforts exerted here are on a pro-bono basis. As Wedi-Ere said, there is just as much to be learned from you as well.
        keep well.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Good explanation.

      • Mohammed Ahmed

        Thanks Kokhob.

    • hailemichael

      Dear Mohammed:

      Let’s be realistic here, last Monday both Apple and Nevsun announced a buyback program. Apple’s amounted to $10 billion US and Nevsun’s to $14 million US. In the latter’s case it comes to a total of 2% of of its common share volume (4 million shares). The market reacted to the news with 1.3% and 5% increase in common share value by Monday closing at the TSX. Many things have conspired to undercut Nevsun’s market value of its stocks. The much publicized one is the company’s downward revision of its gold production levels for 2012. However, all may not be lost for the longer run because in reality Nevsun is a base metal (Copper and Zinc VMS) to the most part. Its gold segment has always been small by comparison. Therefore, strictly gold portfolio investors shied away, causing the latest nose dive in the value of its shares. However, base metal portfolio investors are not only staying the course, but are bound to increase in numbers with finalization of the near by Copper plant. Hence, its share of the market would likely rebound (stabilize at the very least).
      I do not agree with your characterization of the buyback program, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook said on Monday, following its announcement of their decision “We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future,”
      As to your politically motivated negative appraisal of the whole issue however, I can only say that I see where you are coming from (although it doesn’t make sense at all).

  • hailemechael

    Dear Anybody

    **This has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    What would be an accurate spelling for lsan ade (mother tongue) in latin alphabets, or more specifically, is the way I have written it (Lsan Ade) right? Your correction would be much appreciated.


    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear hailmechael,

      one asks first is that very important now? then comes another question, is Lsan Ade the correct translation for mother tongue? then the 3rd question is, why write it in Latin alphabets.

      • hailemechael

        Kokhob Selam

        1 – Yes it is important for the person asking it.
        2 – Lsan Ade is the closest translation to mother tongue, do you have any better
        3 – the purpose it is needed for requires it to be written in latin alphabet

        Now, do you have a suggestion in regards the orginal question or you are going to ask more questions?

        • Kokhob Selam

          1- If it is important for you it is important for me.
          2- I think the closest translation is Quanquwa Ade.
          3- I don’t think we should use Latin when writing Tigringa as Tigringa
          has it’s alphabet,it is and better pronounced by it’s alphabet.
          Now, do you have any objection on the answer above?

          • hailemichael

            Thanks Kokhob Selam,

            …etay dea kem’u zeytbil….hito police eko abzihka (-:


    what a cheat of mining company. Issayas himself is a cheat and both of them created a bullshit Co. It is a blessing that the gold is not found at the level of the terrorist wish so that he mess his surrounding with it. I wish Eritrea to have gold for her development not for the sake of her destruction; for that it is not the time while the lunatic is still on power. His central ambition is destructive not to benefit Eritrea. His Canadian partners gave him an illusion which lasted short and they seem to be like the stock market scums, who are for quick money and hibernate before the stock investors wake up. Poor Issayas you will never get healed from your delusional heat.

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

    Oh Eritrea hagerey, what is happening to you?

    • Hanetay

      Nothing is happening to your country…but something is happening to you!!!!when are you going to write good things about eritrea.

      • sara

        she already swore, she wouldn’t, and there is noway she will, because of her anxiety disorder, she is writing about so many things and that by itself is a reason to go astray with your thoughts and end up writing negativity only.

    • Sis Arwe,

      What is really happening is,…We are shaking it to separate the good and the bad ideas; in other words ” Y’hiquen alo metan K’tsea.” In fact I have seen a lot of difference this time in the nature of our debate. Sooner or later we will come to a solution. We have more than one alternatives as to the options regarding our approach. The best option, a little of external exertion will induce the necessary internal variables to take its own course…thereby ours will be, filling the gaps to finish the evolution of our struggle to its conclusion. That is the scenario I am looking.

      • Kokhob Selam


        “Nothing is happening …” It seems we are dreaming or reading fiction then.

  • hailemichael

    ***the old chap by the name haile (someone else has invaded my previous name haile)

    I am not sure how Gedab news learned that this has to do with the recent events. In any case, a company repurchases its own shares in order to boost the value of its common shares. For this to happen the company needs to have high cash reserve (which is the case with Nevsun – $347million for 2011). And essentially the company would be investing some of that excess cash internally. This doesn’t indicate any worry about investing in that environment, rather the opposite. Please explain.

    • zegeremo

      In other words, If your share price is slumping, you could have the company buy back stock on the open market.

      • Hameed

        It also means, instead of expanding in other areas of mining and getting more share holders, it will remain locked at Bisha until all the millions evaporates into the thin air. Swallowing customers shares means confinement and this leads to bankruptcy. We have to answer this question to understand the wisdom of selling shares. Why did the company sell its shares to customers?

      • John

        Need to have a large cash reserve to buy back the shares. Otherwise how would you pay for it.