Dubai-based Emirates Gold DMCC, one of the largest gold refineries in the Middle East, is being acquired by LSE-listed Rockfire Resources plc, with the new owners planning a comprehensive overhaul of the refinery to get the refiner back on the UAE's "good delivery" list from where it was suspended in July.

The UK-based Rockfire Resources, a gold, base metal and critical mineral exploration company, is executing a conditional share purchase agreement with Paloma Precious DMCC for the acquisition of 100% of Emirates Gold and 99% of Emperesse Bullion LLC, another DMCC-registered company, for a total consideration of $20 million, according to a regulatory filing on the LSE.

Initially, Rockfire will acquire 10% of Emirates Gold and 10% of Emperesse for $2 million in cash, and $18 million for the remaining shares will be paid for with cash and funds raised by it.

The acquisition price for Emirates Gold was not disclosed separately.

Paloma is the largest shareholder in Rockfire, with an interest of 21.7% in its issued share capital, and owns two operating subsidiaries, Emirates Gold (100%) and Emperesse (99%).

Following the acquisition, Emirates Gold will transform its entire operations and will have a new management with Daniele Provenzale appointed as the CEO, the refiner said in a separate statement. 

Speaking about the acquisition, Provenzale said: "Our vision is to elevate Emirates Gold to a symbol of trust and integrity within the global precious metals refining and minting industry. A major step in this strategy has been to integrate with a company listed on the globally-respected London Stock Exchange, providing a high degree of governance and reliability."

In 2022, Emirates Gold made a profit before interest and depreciation of approximately 11.1 million UAE dirham ($2.56 million) on revenue of AED17.8 billion and had audited net assets of about AED192.3 million.

Emirates Gold, which has refined and made gold in Dubai for over 30 years, was temporarily removed in July by the UAE from its "good delivery" list, a certification scheme that sets responsible sourcing rules. Following this move by the Emirati government, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) also suspended Emirates Gold's affiliate membership.

(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)