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Landmark venture formed in cooperation with the Government of Kosovo

Thursday, October 6, 2016 4:43
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(Before It's News)

Fox Marble, the AIM listed company focused on marble quarrying and finishing in Kosovo and the Balkans region, is pleased to announce that it is participating in a new project through a newly formed company registered in the U.S., Stone Alliance LLC (“Stone Alliance”), a company which is 59% owned by Fox Marble.

Key Points:

  • On 4 October 2016 Stone Alliance signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) with the Parliament of Kosovo.
  • Stone Alliance will need to raise a minimum €100m from external sources to facilitate the opening of 40 proposed marble quarries and factories over a five year period in the region with a view to establish Kosovo as a global presence in the stone industry, creating in excess of 2,000 jobs.
  • Stone Alliance granted Commercial Advocacy by the Advocacy Centre of the United States Department of Commerce, ensuring the company benefits from the active support of the U.S. Government.
  • Fox Marble will provide the expertise on technical and strategic planning, implementation and quarry operations; as well as the initial marketing, sales and distribution platforms for all Stone Alliance products.

Having recognised Fox Marble’s success in developing quarries in the country and the high quality of the marble being produced, the Government of Kosovo is keen to accelerate the wider development of the large number of marble deposits which have been identified in the country and to attract inward investment. Through Stone Alliance they aim to realise this ambition, drawing on Fox Marble’s existing management and operational expertise.

Stone Alliance has reserved exploration licences for 40 quarry sites with the Independent Commission for Mining and Minerals, the licensing body in Kosovo. These quarries have been surveyed and contain large quantities of high quality dimension stone.

Further, Stone Alliance has been granted Commercial Advocacy by the Advocacy Centre of the United States Department of Commerce based in Washington DC. This ensures that the company benefits from the active support of the U.S. Government. That support will be primarily delivered by the US Ambassador to Kosovo, HE Ambassador Greg Delawie, and his staff.

Building on an official letter of welcome from the Kosovo Prime Minister, Dr Isa Mustafa, and with the strong support of Ambassador Delawie and his team, on 4 October 2016 Stone Alliance signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) with the Parliament of Kosovo, led by its President and Dr Mustafa’s senior coalition Partner, President of Parliament Kadri Veseli.

The MoU sets out to achieve the following objectives:

  • Creation of a world class new stone industry for Kosovo and in excess of 2,000 jobs in the first five years of the business plan implementation;
  • International board of directors led by the Chairman, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael D. Barbero; and
  • Enhanced reputation of Kosovo through the transformation of the international perception of investment risk as well as through the global marketing and sales of prestigious Kosovan stone.

In accordance with the MOU, Stone Alliance has agreed to raise the capital necessary to facilitate the opening of forty quarries in Kosovo, creating not only direct employment in the quarries themselves but also jobs in the support industries, such as transport and logistics, consumables provision, as well as maintenance and catering services where all providers are expected to be local businesses. Stone Alliance will also commit to build at least two new factories which will process the extracted raw marble into the higher value cut and polished slab products.

Stone Alliance is seeking to raise at least €100m from new investors as the business plan dictates. It is envisaged that the fundraising will commence shortly.

Stone Alliance shall facilitate the opening of the proposed quarries and factories over a five year period. Each of the 40 quarries are expected to be the subject of a joint venture with a local minority partner responsible for operations under the direction of Fox Marble. Fox Marble, which will be the operating company for Stone Alliance in addition to continuing with its current operations, will provide the expertise on technical and strategic planning, implementation and quarry operations; as well as the initial marketing, sales and distribution platforms for all Stone Alliance products.

Directors and former Directors of Fox Marble, who have interests in Stone Alliance, are Mr Andrew Allner (1%), who will act as the Deputy Chairman of Stone Alliance and Dr Etrur Albani (10%). Chris Gilbert, who will act as the CEO, will receive an interest of up to 3%, subject to specific performance criteria being met. These holdings reflect the work they have done in order to establish Stone Alliance. The balance of the interests in Stone Alliance are held by a variety of local partners, consultants and advisers.

Chris Gilbert, Fox Marble’s CEO commented: “Fox Marble is delighted to participate in this exciting project which we expect will help to establish Kosovo as a global presence in the stone industry. Fox Marble will provide all the practical expertise required to achieve the stated objectives of Stone Alliance and manage the business, which has rights to very attractive stone in 40 sites across the country. Fox Marble will continue to build on its own successes in its quarries and work hard to deliver on its previously stated business model. The additional responsibilities Fox Marble will assume for Stone Alliance, in which it holds a majority stake, will enhance its abilities to meet its objectives on a much wider marketing, sales and distribution platform.”

Andrew Allner, Fox Marble’s Chairman commented: “Fox Marble was formed with the objectives of establishing Kosovo as a leading global supplier of marble whilst at the same time providing attractive returns for shareholders. The establishment of Stone Alliance as a subsidiary company of Fox Marble is a major development and provides a powerful structure for the future. Fox Marble must now put this structure into operation and execute its plans to ensure that Kosovo’s potential as a leading global supplier of marble is delivered, thus creating employment and wealth in Kosovo and providing additional value to our shareholders.

I would like to welcome Lt. General Mike Barbero as Chairman of Stone Alliance. He has played an important role in obtaining the support of the US Government and reaching agreement in Kosovo. I look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead.”

Michael D. Barbero, Stone Alliance’s Chairman commented: “We are excited to build upon this MoU, which we have signed with the Government of Kosovo, to develop Stone Alliance into an economic and employment leader in Kosovo. With the support of the U.S. Government and in partnership with the Government of Kosovo, Stone Alliance is committed to the long term success of this project.”

This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of EU Regulation 596/2014.

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