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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 August, 2003, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Ghana's gold 'lures Canada'
Gold from an Ashanti mine in Ghana
Ashanti is Ghana's biggest employer

Two Canadian firms are ready to stage rival bids for Ghana's largest employer, Ashanti Goldfields, according to a press report.

South Africa's AngloGold has been waiting for government approval for its $1.1bn (680m) bid since May.

But the competition to take over Ghana's biggest gold miner intensified this month when London-listed Randgold entered the fray with an initial bid worth almost $1.5bn.

Now, the Independent newspaper has reported that both Barrick Resources and Placer Dome are working on their respective offers.

Neither firm confirmed the reports, but both said they were pursuing a strategy of growth by acquisition.

World's biggest

Lonmin, the largest shareholder in Ashanti, has already given its blessing to the AngloGold offer.

But the Ghanaian government, which has a 20% golden share in its former state miner, has the final say.

Some sources have suggested that the government has been delaying the process in order to attract higher bidders.

AngloGold chief executive Bobby Godsell, however, still says his is the best offer.

"I will not surprise you by saying that I think we are overwhelmingly the right partner for Ashanti," Mr Godsell told World Business Report earlier this month.

If AngloGold wins the Ghanaian firm, it will overtake Australia's Newmont to become the world's largest gold miner.

Ashanti has mines in six different countrie,s and is one of Africa's few non-South African multinationals.

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