Sherritt International Corp., a Canadian energy and mining company, agreed to sell assets including all of its coal interests for C$946 million ($891 million) so that it can focus on nickel and oil.

A group led by Altius Minerals Corp. will buy Sherritt’s coal-development assets and mining-royalty interests for C$481 million in cash, Toronto-based Sherritt said today in a statement. Westmoreland Coal Co. will acquire Sherritt’s operating coal mines for C$312 million in cash and the assumption of capital leases valued at C$153 million, Sherritt said.

“The businesses we’re choosing strategically to focus on now are those businesses where Sherritt’s expertise is really unique,” Chief Executive Officer David Pathe said in a telephone interview today. “We’ve had a suite of assets that have always been high-quality assets but it’s never been clear what’s tied them all together.”

The company also received a request from shareholder Clarke Inc. for a special shareholder meeting to discuss removing some of its independent board members, Pathe said. Sherritt has declined 34 percent this year. The request today was unrelated to the deal, Pathe said.

The shares rose 12 percent to C$3.79 at 11:22 a.m. in Toronto, the most intraday since Oct. 26, 2011.

Nickel Play

Proceeds from the sale will give Sherritt liquidity to survive low prices while developing a new mine in Madagascar, Pathe said.

“The company’s valuation has historically traded at a discount due to its complex business structure,” Greg Barnes, an analyst at TD Securities Inc. in Toronto wrote in a note today. “The sale of the coal assets will now allow Sherritt to be viewed as a purer nickel play.”

Sherritt said Rothschild is advising it on the coal sale and will help the company with further opportunities. CIBC World Markets Inc. provided a fairness opinion to Sherritt’s board on the value of the proposed sale.

Andrew Snelgrove, Clarke’s chief financial officer, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message requesting comment on the shareholder meeting request.

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