The UK Takeover Panel on Friday gave Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, the Kazakh mining group, until May 16 to make a firm offer for compatriot Kazakhmys or walk away.

ENRC, which mines ferro-alloys and iron ore, said last month it was in the early stages of looking at a combination with Kazakhmys, which mines copper, a deal that would create a Kazakh national champion worth more than £20bn ($39bn).

But Kazakhmys said it had heard nothing from ENRC since then and this week asked the Takeover Panel to intervene to “create some clarity for shareholders”. The panel said on Friday that ENRC must announce a firm intention to make an offer for Kazakhmys by the end of the working day on May 16 or refrain from launching a hostile bid for six months.

Kazakhmys is 45 per cent-owned by Vladimir Kim, its chairman and founder, and ENRC will not be able to take control of the group without his support.

The panel deadline was therefore irrelevant, said a person close to the situation, as Mr Kim and ENRC’s main shareholders could strike a friendly deal at any time.

Another person familiar with the situation said ENRC was unlikely to be ready to make a firm offer for Kazakhmys by such a tight deadline.

ENRC declined to comment. Kazakhmys welcomed the panel’s ruling. ENRC is 19 per cent-owned by the government of Kazakhstan, while 44 per cent is controlled by the group’s three founders: Alijan Ibragimov, Alexander Machkevitch and Patokh Chodiev.

Kazakhmys owns a 15 per cent stake in ENRC and last year was looking at ways to buy its then privately owned rival.

However, since ENRC listed in London in December, its shares have rallied – driven by higher iron ore, aluminium and ferrochrome prices – and it is now worth much more than Kazakhmys.

Kazakhmys shares fell 28p to £16.98, giving it a market capitalisation of £7.7bn. ENRC rose 14p to £11.94, valuing the company at £15.5bn.

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