PracticeConsultingEthics – Grant Thornton quits Oryx bid.

Ethics - Grant Thornton quits Oryx bid.

Grant Thornton has extracted itself at the last minute from its role as advisor to controversial mining venture Oryx's bid for a London stock exchange listing, writes Jerry Frank.

Top level discussions with the LSE led to the firm’s decision last Friday to effectively withdraw from advising the reverse takeover of listed company Petra Diamonds, who would have adopted the name Oryx.

Oryx’s chances of listing have been wrecked by the firm’s decision. Petracould now pursue a judicial review into Grant Thornton’s unexplained about turn in carrying through its duties as nominated adviser.

‘The government has to come clean about who is leaning on who’, a Petra spokesman said.

In a statement, the top ten accountancy firm said: ‘Discussions have led us to conclude Grant Thornton could no longer act if the acquisition of Oryx Natural Resources were to proceed.’

The pull-out comes amid Foreign Office pressure to curb the diamond trade funding conflicts across Africa and criticism of Oryx, which has a $1bn diamond concession in the civil war torn Congo. Angry Petra shareholders at a special meeting on Monday at Grant Thornton’s London office were told the listing due the next day had been postponed due to ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Chairman of Petra Diamonds, Adonis Pouroulis, told shareholders the firm had not offered an explanation for the ‘exceptional circumstances’ of their withdrawal.

Grant Thornton said it would continue in other matters to act as nominated adviser to Petra – now believed to be considering a New York listing – as well as its auditor.

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