AVZ Minerals Shareholder Class Action

AVZ Minerals Shareholder Class Action Investigation


Omni Bridgeway has agreed to fund claims by shareholders of AVZ Minerals Limited (ASX:AVZ) (AVZ) against AVZ.
 
AVZ shareholders who acquired AVZ shares or an interest in AVZ shares between 17 May 2021 and 6 May 2022 inclusive are invited to sign up with Omni Bridgeway below.

The class action will be run by law firm Johnson Winter and Slattery. 

Background

AVZ is an Australian public company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange under ticker code ‘AVZ’ (ISIN: AU000000AVZ6). It is engaged in the business of resource exploration and mining in the DRC. AVZ’s flagship venture is the Manono Project in the DRC, which is one of the largest lithium-rich LCT (lithium, caesium, tantalum) pegmatite deposits in the world. 

The Manono Project is 100% owned by Dathcom Mining SA (Dathcom). AVZ (via a wholly-owned subsidiary) holds its stake in the Manono Project by holding equity in Dathcom. Two other entities also hold (or at relevant time held) equity in Dathcom, they are:

  • a company called Dathomir Mining Resources SARL (Dathomir); and
  • a DRC government entity called La Congolaise D’Exploitation Minière (Cominière).

On 21 April 2020, AVZ announced that it held “rights of first refusal” over additional equity in Dathcom (and therefore the Manono Project) held by the other Dathcom shareholders.

Following a capital raising in July 2021, on 18 August 2021, AVZ announced that it had completed the acquisition of shares from Dathomir, increasing its interest in the Manono Project to 75%.

In an ASX announcement on 4 May 2022, AVZ announced a number of matters to the market in the one release. This included relevantly:
 
  1. positive news that the DRC Minister of Mines had signed a ministerial decree to award a Mining Licence for the Manono Project (subject to calculation and payment of a surface rights fee), but also
  2. AVZ sought to respond to “recent media speculation” which AVZ said it considered “spurious and immaterial”, namely:
    1. a reference to a decision by a tribunal in the DRC in respect of a claim by Dathomir regarding the validity of a share certificate and an extract of a shareholders’ registry from Dathcom (Dathomir Claim); and
    2. a claim that Cominière had transferred a 15% interest in Dathcom to Jin Cheng Mining Company Limited (Cominière Transfer Claim).
The share price of AVZ fell following the 4 May 2022 announcement. The closing price of AVZ shares on the ASX on 3 May 2022 was $0.99 and by the close of trade on 6 May 2022 was $0.78 (down approximately 21%).

AVZ shares were placed into a trading halt on 9 May 2022, were voluntarily suspended from quotation on 11 May 2022 and remain suspended as of 19 December 2022.

The basis of the Claim is that:
 
  1. The existence of each of the Dathomir Claim and Cominière Transfer Claim are (and would have been) material to the market as they are (and were) relevant to AVZ’s stake in the Manono Project, and its ability to ultimately hold a majority interest (of at least 51%, and as much as 66%) in Dathcom and the Manono Project, which is its flagship project;
  2. AVZ had information about the Dathomir Claim and Cominière Transfer Claim prior to the 4 May 2022 announcement and it:
    1. failed to disclose this information to the market in breach of its continuous disclosure obligations under s674A of the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act); and
    2. failed to adequately disclose the information when making positive statements about its ownership or ownership rights in respect of the Manono Project and accordingly engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive, or was false or misleading, in contravention of statutory provisions including s1014H of the Corporations Act, s12DA of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 and/or s18 of the Australian Consumer Law;
  3. Prior to 4 May 2022 the price for AVZ shares was inflated by virtue of the non-disclosure of information related to the Dathomir Claim and Cominière Transfer Claim, and would have been lower had such information been disclosed to the market;
  4. As a result, shareholders who acquired shares, or an interest in shares, in AVZ in the period between 17 May 2021 and 6 May 2022 inclusive (Relevant Period) have suffered loss or damage.
The Relevant Period may change prior to the commencement of the Class Action.

AVZ shareholders who acquired AVZ shares or an interest in AVZ shares between 17 May 2021 and 6 May 2022 (inclusive) are encouraged to sign up with Omni Bridgeway below. 
 

How much will it cost to take part in the class action?

There are no costs involved for group members who wish to take part in the class action. In the event that the class action is unsuccessful, group members do not have to pay anything because Omni Bridgeway will pay any legal costs that may be awarded to AVZ. In the event of a successful outcome, Omni Bridgeway will be entitled to reimbursement of the costs of the class action that it has paid plus a commission from the judgment or settlement amount, pursuant to the terms of the funding agreement.
 

How can affected AVZ Minerals shareholders participate in the class action?

It is currently proposed to bring the Class Action on an ‘open’ basis, that is, on behalf of all AVZ shareholders who acquired AVZ shares or an interest in AVZ shares between 17 May 2021 and 6 May 2022 (inclusive) whether or not they sign up to the funding agreement. If you do not wish to take part in the Class Action, you will need to opt out in accordance with the relevant court rules.

Omni Bridgeway encourages all group members who do not wish to opt out to sign up so that Omni Bridgeway can include you as ‘known’ funded group members and ensure you receive regular updates regarding the Class Action and, most importantly, so that any distribution from the proceeds of the Class Action to which you may be entitled is properly paid to you. 

To sign up, you can do so by clicking on the “Sign up” button below. Alternatively, you can contact the Omni Bridgeway Client Liaison Team in our Perth office by email on [email protected] or by calling 1800 016 464 (free call in Australia) or +61 8 9225 2322 (if overseas).

Please return your completed and signed Funding Agreement and Retainer by no later than 31 March 2023