Consolidated Gold Fields PLC and Newmont Mining Corp. said Wednesday that they had asked President Reagan to prohibit, on national security grounds, a hostile $4.9-billion takeover of Gold Fields by a South African mining conglomerate.
Gold Fields, which is based in London, owns 49.3% of Newmont, the New York-based company that is the largest gold producer in the United States.
An acquisition by South African interests would “imperil U.S. access to strategic and precious metals vital to national security,” Gold Fields and Newmont said in a filing.
Minorco SA last month offered $4.9 billion for the 71% stake it does not already own in Gold Fields. Minorco, based in Luxembourg, is controlled by South Africa’s Anglo American Corp. and De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd.
White House spokesman B. Jay Cooper said he could not comment on the filing because White House officials had not yet seen it.
Gold Fields controls 8% of the world’s gold production. It also produces rutile and zircon, which are raw materials for metals used in military aircraft and submarines.
The proposed acquisition by Minorco would be the largest purchase to date of U.S. assets by South African interests. Half of Gold Fields’ assets are in the United States.
The offer for Gold Fields has sparked a controversy even though Anglo American and De Beers said they would relinquish control of Minorco, and Minorco said it plans to sell Consolidated’s South African interests.
Officials at Minorco in Luxembourg were not available for comment when the filing was announced late Wednesday in New York.
The Defense Production Act, as amended by this year’s trade bill, authorizes the President to suspend or prohibit any merger or acquisition by a foreign company that threatens to impair national security.
Gold Fields and Newmont asked Reagan to immediately block the transfer of U.S. assets pending completion of an investigation.