Prominent experts in mining, finance, and law have called on the government to protect the interests of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC (Erdenes TT) shareholders, specifically, the Mongolian citizens who collectively own a 20 percent stake in the company.
On February 13, economist and CEO of Ard Financial Group Ch.Gankhuyag, mining expert L.Naranbaatar, and attorney B.Bayar demanded that the government take measures to protect the rights and interests of the state-owned mining company’s shareholders.
Erdenes TT was established in 2010 by decree of Parliament and Cabinet. The company’s main focus is to manage and operate the nation’s strategically important coal mines, such as the Tavan Tolgoi mine.
When the company was established, each Mongolian citizen was given 1,072 shares of the company. Even though each citizen owns a stake in the company, analysts claim that the Mongolian people have not enjoyed the rights that a shareholder is normally allowed. These include receiving quarterly updates, voting on key decisions, and freely dictating the use of their shares. The financial reports and balance sheets of Erdenes TT have not been publicly released on a consistent basis. Ch.Gankhuyag, L.Naranbaatar, and B.Bayar have noted that it is not clear how many Mongolian citizens have sold their shares and how many still own them. The three critics, all prominent in their fields, have called upon the government to take action to erase past shortcomings and to ensure that certain rights are afforded to all of the company’s shareholders.
“For every 100 million MNT in income, Erdenes TT requires 136 million MNT in expenditure. Since 2011, a total of 24.2 million tons of high quality coking coal has been extracted and exported. Yet, the accumulated net loss of the company stands at 453 billion MNT. Outstanding debt has reached 822 billion MNT. If Erdenes TT carries on along the path they are on right now, in eight years time, it will likely be bankrupt,” said L.Naranbaatar.
L.Naranbaatar stressed that shareholders need to put pressure on the administration of Erdenes TT to implement proper management. He said that the Mongolian people have been shareholders in name only, and that poor management has led to a loss of revenue and greater accumulated debt. Referencing research he has conducted, he pointed out that the administration of Erdenes TT has used loans from Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) to compensate for the company’s losses.
“Of the accumulated debt, 71 percent of it is owed to DBM; money which was financed by the Chinggis Bond. Yet, the debt that gets talked about most, the outstanding debt owed to Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chalco), accounts for only one-eighth of the company’s overall debt,” said L.Naranbaatar.
Ch.Gankhuyag highlighted how the burden of the company’s debt has been put on the shoulders of the Mongolian people as minority shareholders and taxpayers. He stressed how this practice and mismanagement need to be stopped.
Companies and citizens who own shares of Erdenes TT have been urged by the experts to register at Ard.mn to join the movement to protect their interests and rights.